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Early voting began yesterday.

Key on the ballot are of course the presidential race of which George W. Bush, the incumbent, is being challenged by U.S. Sen. John Kerry. May the better man win.

Locally on the ballot is the opportunity for local citizens to decide whether or not to pay an additional Wheel Tax.

Knox County Mayor originally proposed the Wheel Tax increase to fund several projects including a new downtown library. When the public rose in protest, mandating a new school in West Knox County to ease the overcrowding at Farragut, Bearden and Karns high schools, the focus shifted to steering funds from the Wheel Tax to the school.

What local politicians didnít anticipate was that the opposition to a Wheel Tax would not go away and that the real issue was no new taxes and not just the building of a downtown library.

Through much effort, opponents to the Wheel Tax gathered more than 12,000 signatures on petitions to have the Wheel Tax issue brought to the people.

In turn, the mayor and Knox County Commission agreed to raise property taxes to replace the revenue generated by the Wheel Tax if the said tax was indeed repealed.

Now the issue is deciding which way to let the government dip into the pockets of taxpayers Ė the Wheel Tax or a property tax.

The larger issue is whether taxpayers should allow government to blackmail its citizens into paying more and more taxes.

The citizenry has been alerted that one of the taxes will be put into place or no new school will be built in West Knox County.

It is the job of government to attract businesses to the area to help defray the cost of operating the government and not constantly increase the burden on the citizenry.

When the curtain closes on the voting booth this election, remember that the Wheel Tax is wrong and so too is an increase in property tax. Remember the latter the next time you enter the voting booth and remember the names of those who voted to possibly raise your property tax instead of taking the hard road and finding new avenues to generate revenue appear on the ballot.

If our representatives would just observe the rather depressed cities to our north, the lesson is there as to what happens when industry leaves. More services and entitlements continue to be demanded and taxes continue to rise to feed uncontrolled government spending.


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