Hassan Township residents may have shot themselves in the foot by grabbing a zero levy heading into their eventual merger with the city of Rogers, but only time will tell.
Some advantages had been negotiated, but apparently none were enticing enough to win out over the effort for a zero levy.
Eventually, Hassan residents will have to settle down, and leaders for the city of Rogers will have to show they are men and women of integrity.
Strip away all the emotion, and it’s not surprising residents went for a tax rebate at a time when they feel their pocketbooks and futures out of control.
Choosing a 95 percent levy would have bought them time, a little representation at the table and a timeline for tax increases. This would have eased them into their city of Rogers tax bill.
The majority of the folks at the meeting lack trust in the city of Rogers to handle their remaining dollars. They decided it would be better to gamble on a zero levy and hang on to as many of their dollars as they can now. They’re leery about how much say they will have on future levies.
Rogers officials, particularly the elected folks, should be concerned that their future constituents lack the trust it would have taken to approve the 95 percent levy.
They are the only folks who can do anything about that. No matter how much wrangling goes on between Hassan residents between now and Jan. 1 will mean little come 2012. Hassan will be no more.
Hassan residents don’t feel Rogers has represented their interests well enough at the negotiating table to earn their trust. They want the city of Rogers to know they are as conservative a bunch as they come, and suggest Rogers leaders could learn a thing or two from them. They probably could.
Of course they don’t want their taxes to rise, but they will. Cities have more demands for revenue than townships do. The transition will no doubt be messy.
But the fact of the matter is, Rogers will soon represent those who call Hassan Township home. It will be on their shoulders to explain things, make decisions and smooth things over.
It will work if Rogers leaders begin to assimilate themselves as representatives of both Hassan residents and Rogers residents.
A city official or two to speak at this annual meeting would have been a good start. Hopefully, Rogers officials will find an opportunity to begin that type of dialogue.
Inviting calm Hassan Township heads to the table would be another olive branch.
After all, taxation without representation has never worked in America. It will only fuel the anger and distrust that already exists in the minds and hearts of many Hassan residents.
It’s time for the two sides to work together in new and meaningful ways. Come Jan. 1, 2012 they will be one and the same. — Jim Boyle, editor