High taxes, rate increases, price hikes, oh my!

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, February 4, 2016

“…But I want to get up early one more morning, at least. And go to my place with some coffee and wait. Just wait, to see what’s going to happen.”

~ Raymond Carver, excerpt from ‘At Least’

$aluda Enact$ Water/$ewer Rate Increase$ For Major $ystem Repair$! Polk County’$ New Jail Propo$al: Almost Eight Million Buck$! Congratulation$: Your Taxe$ Doubled! Don’t Look Now, But Your Heating Bill Tripled! Grocerie$: Outta $ight.

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Whoa, horse. All I can say is my income in winter months varies. Sometimes nothing, sometimes little, but that’s the life of a self-supporting artist in the cold ‘dry’ season. You tighten the belt ‘til it hits backbone. You make soup out of leftovers. You continue to live beneath your means, although you wonder if that entails cardboard box living next round.

If something breaks (it will), you pray a lot, and if you’re lucky, kind souls pull you along a little bit. You feel blessed if you get up one more day, if your River Dog feels good and has a bag of food, if the temperature is not single-digit and the propane truck doesn’t show up—which means a large bill stuck to the back kitchen door. You don’t ask too much along the way, and you feel mighty dang grateful for what you do get.

However, I’m not feeling overly grateful about mountains of expenses piling up. As a law-abiding (most of the time, at least) citizen, taxpayer and area resident, all these increases, proposed increases, and mentions of 80-bed-or-so new jail building make my teeth hurt. Is the new jail gonna be an eight-million-buck-spa/resort? Does a small county need a hunking, expensive jail, more people, resources and equipment to run it, sure-to-be-whopping expenditures?

What’s wrong with fixing up existing space, reusing and being fiscally responsible? Is that what commissioners think when discussing selling off Lake Adger? Selling Peter to pay for Paul’s fancy new jail? (Are the cells to be padded with velvet or something?)

While groaning about jails and water systems, it’s true that the water system in Saluda has been falling apart for decades—and our town has patched and repaired time and time again. (My bank account has been falling apart for a while too, but I have to patch things up and pray!)

“Enough revenues must be collected from customers sufficient to cover the costs of the enterprise,” says a letter from the city to citizens. That means you’re gonna get it.

Isn’t federal aid for small towns available? High-spouting water bills hurt regular everyday folks, many who are on fixed incomes or struggling. Not everyone is able to pay $125, $200, $300 or more for water every month. It hurts businesses too. I fondly remember when a water bill was $28 and covered water, sewer and garbage pick-up. Now that’s reasonable. What happened?

If I can’t pay taxes, sky-rocketing bills, and constant increases does that mean I’ll be getting a nice, warm, velvet-padded cell with cable TV and three meals a day at the new pokey?

Saluda Community Land Trust (SCLT) will benefit from your donations for this year ahead, or your time as a volunteer for their many community projects. Contact SCLT at 828-749-1560 or visit www.saludasclt.org.  ‘Seek and Find’ begins this month through May, every Thursday (weather permitting), at 1 p.m. A group of nature loving SCLT members will leave Saluda Library parking lot to visit properties owned and/or leased by SCLT which owns/leases 13 properties in the Saluda area, ranging in size from one acre to 55 acres.

Congratulations to Thompson’s Store for celebrating 126 years!

Ward’s Grill will host a free Veterans’ Breakfast on Feb. 18 from 8-10 a.m.

Garden Notes: February is a great time to turn your compost heap, or start one if you haven’t already—it’s simple and easy. Bluebird houses need to be clean and ready; open fields or lawns are prime locations to attract the little guys. Yesterday, I spotted flashes of blue flitting along the side street playing in the bamboo, which means house hunting soon. You better believe I hustled and remounted the bluebird house that escaped injury from tree-cutting last year—along with the bluebird babies inside.

There’s so much going on in Saluda, it won’t all fit in this little column! Saluda shops are open with great food, drink, and shopping. A few are on winter respite, so check ahead if in doubt. Visit Cathy Jackson’s popular on-line zine “Saluda Lifestyles” at saludalifestyles.com or visit saluda.com for Saluda information and events.

Happy February birthday to: Wylie Rauschenbach, Wesley Pace, Biddie Dawson, Amy Beeson, Ginny Jones, Jenna Igoe, Suzanne Igoe, Pam Thompson, Catherine Raymond, Eva McCray, Ellen Rogers, Margaret Miller, Paul London, Ward Sandahl, Bill Klippel, Pat Bares, Dwight Smith, Ingrid Sandahl, Fred Baisden, Duane Bateman, Jim Crowther and Ragan Thompson.

Saluda Sympathy goes to the families of William Gerald Thompsen, Nancy Thompson Proctor, and Jerry M. “Doc” Russell.

Thank you for reading this column, dear readers. As ever, the goal is to make you feel like you’re enjoying small town life in a friendly little mountain town called Saluda. Feel free to contact me at bbardos@gmail.com or 749-1153. I always love hearing from you! Visit bonniebardosart.com for more writing and art, or find me on Facebook.