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Community Forum: Splitting tax payments wouldn't be beneficial
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Splitting Hall County tax payments into two parts has serious drawbacks. At first look, the controversial 1994 amendment that is trying to be resurrected from the dead may seem to be a benefit to taxpayers, but there are many disadvantages outweighing any advantage.

Tax Commissioner Keith Echols reports that a change to split payment would add $50,000 in printing and postage required to handle the billing. There are even more compelling reasons for not making the change.

The money collected by Hall County in midyear is for the next year's operation. As happened to Social Security, this money will become a tempting part of the general fund subject to its being spent with an IOU in its place for the next year's budget. An example of this is the U.S. Congress' disastrous intermixing of Social Security and Medicare funds with operational funds.

This money, if kept by the taxpayers and not paid before it is due, can earn interest for them until the regular end-of-the-year payment of the taxes. This can provide a stimulus to the economy.

If the intention of the dual payment system is to ease the burden on taxpayers, we should carry this logic a step further. Require payment of only half the taxes for six months in November 2008 and the rest of the taxes in mid-2009, when the money should be spent. This is the way our household budgets work: Pay as we go, not before, unless we are offered a bonus for lending the money.

Lee S. Bowers

Pet population control is a plus for everyone
Too much of a good thing is not a good thing, as animal shelters are overflowing. Right now, we are in the middle of kitten season. You're probably asking, what is kitten season? That's the time of year when cats give birth, flooding animal shelters across the nation, including our Lake Lanier Humane League, with homeless litters.

Kitten "season" is really three seasons in one, starting in spring, peaking in late spring or early summer, and ending in fall. The most effective way to help reduce the overwhelming numbers of unwanted cats is to have your cats spayed and neutered, and encourage others to do the same.

Spaying for females and neutering for males ensures that your pet cannot reproduce. Even if your cat only goes outside occasionally, or there's a chance that he or she may get out, it allows plenty of opportunity for him or her to mate.

Cats are driven by their hormones and tend to sneak outdoors primarily in search of a mate. Mating just once can start a domino effect that can result in dozens, hundreds or thousands of unwanted animals. In the span of seven years, an nonspayed cat and her offspring can produce 370,000 kittens. Believe it or not, a female cat can become pregnant one week after having kittens.

It's literally a baby boom and a huge challenge for local shelters. With already stretched shelter resources, the sudden increase in animals results in shelters often being forced to make the difficult choice of euthanizing many healthy animals due to lack of shelter space, finances or potential adoptive homes.

Too many companion animals competing for too few good homes is the major consequence of uncontrolled breeding. However, pet overpopulation is not just a problem for animals or shelters. All of us are affected by animal overpopulation.

Each year, communities are forced to spend millions of taxpayer dollars trying to cope with the consequences of a surplus of pets. These public costs include services such as investigating animal cruelty, humanely capturing stray animals and sheltering lost and unwanted animals. Money is also spent to destroy these animals when homes cannot be found.

Free-roaming cats have contributed to the decline in songbird populations, and are a threat to other wildlife species. It is only when all of us assume the responsibility for pet overpopulation that we will see any decrease in the problem.

Yes, through spaying and neutering, you can help your dog and cat live a happier, healthier and longer life, and help yourself to live happier, too. Elimination of heat cycles, along with a reduction in accompanying hormonally-driven behaviors, (urine marking, roaming, aggression) make for a much more pleasant pet to be around. Medically speaking, spaying or neutering greatly reduces the risk of testicular and mammary cancers as well as a potentially life-threatening uterine infection.

Even if your pet has just one litter and you find homes for all offspring, each of those pets takes a potential home away from other homeless pets waiting in a shelter. Living creatures have become throwaway items to be cuddled when cute and abandoned when inconvenient. Such disregard for animal life pervades and erodes our culture.

The old adage that "if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem" is particularly applicable to unwanted pregnancy in cats as well as dogs. Please spay or neuter your pet; it's the responsible thing to do.

Katie Winkelman

Candidates who place calls lose my vote
As it gets closer to election time, the more politician telephone calls I am receiving asking for my vote and support. These are prerecorded messages and you cannot speak to them. These candidates who have called have now lost my vote.

I understand that this is legal since they are not "telemarketers." Is there any way to stop these annoying calls or will we have to contend with it until after the election?

Johnny Godfrey

Why do organic foods cost so much more?
Why is organic food much more costly than regularly grown food? It is free of chemical sprays and manufactured fertilizers and must meet certain standards so it can be called "organic." But is it a more healthy food?

Sprays are rinsed off easily. Besides, I am not going to bite into an apple without washing it because a person who touched it may not have washed hands after using the litter box.

I presume organic grown food is more labor-intensive. What kind of natural fertilizer is used? I don't know. I do know that in most parts of the world the fertilizer used is natural, but if you and I eat it, serious illness may follow.

Remember the "honey buckets" in Korea? These were not emptied at the local sewage disposal plant. Instead, think gardens and fields where edibles are grown.

The claim that organic is healthier cannot be made because it isn't proven. It is reasonable to assume that any food that hasn't been sprayed and has assimilated chemicals into the growing process is not the same as organic-grown stuff.

But at age 75, I am not sold on organic food unless it is priced the same as everything else. I'm not going to pay twice the price for asparagus. Those who do are fooling themselves.

George C. Kaulbach