News and Tribune

April 19, 2013

NASH: Government at work

By MATTHEW NASH
Local columnist

Sunday night I stayed up late to do my taxes. Like many Americans I usually wait until the last possible minute to file my taxes, mainly because I procrastinate nearly everything. While it’s not my favorite thing to do, making sure my taxes are paid doesn’t bother me that much. I don’t agree with everything that my tax money pays for, but I understand the importance of paying them.

Most people don’t actually feel the sting of paying taxes because it is withheld from their paychecks each week.  What if we had to sit down and write a check for the entire amount each year.  Would most Americans have the restraint to put away the money that is normally withheld or would they be scrounging to make an annual payment.

There are others who just hate paying their taxes. They believe that the government doesn’t do what they think is right with their money. Some people think because they don’t have children, they shouldn’t be forced to pay for schools. They don’t go to parks so why should they help to build places that only others will enjoy.  I believe that places like nice parks or great schools are what help build a community and make the future brighter for everyone.

I agree that there is waste in government and probably considerable room for improvement. I don’t believe that every part of government is evil and should go away. There are several examples of the need for government, and many of them get overlooked on a daily basis. Who is going to pick up the garbage? If your house catches fire, who is going to put it out? Government agencies can help us if we give them a chance.

Over the last few weeks I have had a few occasions when I had to contact a local government agency to attempt to get a situation rectified. On each occasion I was delighted at the level of service that I received  and the prompt action that took place after each request.

Last month I wrote a column about picking up litter around the neighborhood where I live. I made a list of some of the things that I found that I threw away or recycled. I purposely left off one of the items that I saw that day because it wasn’t part of the story and I didn’t feel that it was necessary that I tell my readers of a dead deer carcass.  

Someone had killed a deer, stripped down the parts that they wanted and disposed of the rest about 20 yards from the entrance of an elementary school. I didn’t feel like I should move it at the time so the next day I called the New Albany-Floyd County Animal Control and asked if there is anything that could be done.  They said they would send someone out to take care of it. I assumed that they meant the next day or within the week, eventually something would be done.

About an hour after making the call I drove by the location where I had seen the deer. There sat a truck that I recognized as the one belonging to Animal Control. Someone was standing at the side of the road picking up the dead animal. It was almost as if they had gotten up from their desk as soon as I made the call and drove out to get it.

Last week as I was on my daily walk I noticed that someone had dumped an old mattress in a creek that is near my house. It was resting up against the culvert pipe that runs under the road and was in danger of blocking it. Had we had a big storm it could have caused some trouble and possibly led to some flooding. I knew that something had to be done so I made another call. 

The first thing the next morning I made a call to the New Albany Stormwater Department. The person that answered the phone took down my information and said he would look into it. He was familiar with the location and said that it was a common one for people dumping old furniture.

When I came home from work that afternoon I drove by the creek and saw that the mattress had been removed. Some time within my eight hour shift the mattress had been removed from the creek.

In both instances I called a government agency and got service beyond what I was expecting. They were each courteous and listened to my problems and said that they would be taken care of. Both problems were resolved to the degree that I expected and both were done quicker than I had imagined that they would be.  

 I know there are horror stories of government employees or agencies that don’t live up to expectations of service.  I know that I have had my share of run-ins or disagreements with different departments.  I understand that there are definitely some bad ones out there but there are plenty of good ones around too.  

 

— Matthew Nash can be reached at dmatthewnash@gmail.com