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McKinney Courier Gazette
Editorial Saturday, August 4, 2007
Collin County commissioners are in the process of determining what projects will go into a bond package to be presented to voters in November. Roads, parks and other facilities will be the major items on the list, but a debate is brewing whether to add a county family violence justice center.
The 60,000-square-foot center, as presented to commissioners, would include office space for several non-profit agencies, as well as employees of the sheriff’s and district attorney’s offices, and the health department.
Proponents of the county center believe it will save Collin County more than $300,000 per year because all services would be under one roof, and danger would be reduced. Commissioner Phyllis Cole said the county is building enough jails and juvenile detention centers, while Melissa Mayor David Dorman, a 2008 commissioner candidate, believes that the county should do something because the non-profits are doing a job for the county.
Members of the facilities committee did not recommend the center be placed in the bond package because, as committee member Sharon Easley said, the services provided by the non-profits are not a function of county government and there is no empirical evidence that a center would save money for the county.
Both sides have valid arguments. That’s why the issue should be left to the voters.
Non-profit agencies such as the Collin County Children’s Advocacy Center, the Turning Point Rape Crisis Center, Court Appointed Special Advocates and Hope’s Door do yeoman’s work without much funding and with many volunteers. Their fund-raising success speaks to the commitment that county residents have for the organizations. The efficiency of these organizations would certainly improve if they had down-the-hall access to prosecutors and sheriff’s deputies - not to mention each other. Imagine a Turning Point client being told all she needed to do to file charges against an assailant is walk to the next office, escorted by a counselor. Imagine the Children’s Advocacy Center and CASA working side by side to help a child in distress.
But one reason for the rise of conservatism in U.S. politics is the desire for less government. The basis of President Bush’s “faith-based initiatives” program is to transfer some charity work from public to private enterprise. Taxpayers want to pay for fewer things, not more.
The decision what to do, though, should be with the voters. Let them decide if they want to consolidate family violence agencies or stick with the status quo. That is the reason democracy was created.
And that is the reason counties have bond elections: So the citizens can decide how their tax dollars are spent.
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