Misuse of Public Funds Starts at the County Level

Typically, when people think of mismanagement of taxpayer funds their minds gravitate to over bloated federal budgets. What most citizens do not realize is that this problem starts much closer to home, likely in their county.

Carthage is a small town East of Nashville, Tennessee with a population in the neighborhood of 2500 people. Recently it has been awakened from an apathetic slumber due to the activities of the County government. Erika Ebel was elected as a County Commissioner for District 4 in November 2018, when the time came to talk about the budget in Smith County she was shocked to discover the county was donating approximately $27,000 to charities, some of which are chaired or managed by other members of the county commission. 

Simultaneously, Smith County is considering a .59 property tax increase which begs the question, why would a county with the excess funds to donate $27,000 to charity, be considering a tax increase on a population that is largely on a fixed or low income? These two things are incongruent with fiscal responsibility. Taxpayers do not get to choose where this charitable giving goes, nor the amount divided among the charities in the budget. In Michigan, counties and municipalities are not allowed to allocate public funds to charity because it does not fulfill a “valid public purpose”.

Mrs. Ebel is a libertarian and stated her position very clearly, “it is not the place of the government to allocate taxpayer dollars toward charities they deem “worthy”. If we have that much excess money laying around why not give it back to the taxpayers and let them contribute to the causes that matter to them personally?” The heart of conservatism is to have the ability to make choices without interference from government. Silencing the voices of taxpayers in your community by making charitable contributions for them is antithetical to conservative values. Every citizen should be concerned when counties raise property taxes while writing checks to organizations that should be funded voluntarily. It is time for this practice to end and for taxpayers to demand their local government restore decision making power to it’s rightful place.


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