Voter apathy common in county?   

By Julie Fann
star staff
 jfann@starhq.com

ÊÊ  When asked their opinion about a proposed property tax increase in Carter County, citizens interviewed in Roan Mountain were either too tired or too apathetic to say anything at all. Of course, all of them said they don't want to see taxes go up, but, really, they seemed consigned to a larger fire.
  "It's all people can do to just get by these days," said Joey Whitehead as he entered the Appco on U.S. Highway 19E late Thursday afternoon. "It costs $40 just to fill up my tank with gas, and the price of milk and eggs keeps going up too. Another tax increase is just more money out of our pockets, but what can you do? They get you coming and going."
  Recent Carter County Budget Committee meetings have proposed increasing the county's property tax rate from $2.22 per $100 of assessed value to varying amounts up to $2.65, and the committee has also proposed a $25 wheel tax. Pertinent expenses include funding a solution to overcrowding at the Carter County Jail and providing a raise for county employees.
  Local citizens also seemed to have little faith in the media as a tool for voter expression. One woman, after being told she was speaking to a reporter for the Elizabethton Star, said, "Oh God no," and walked away.
  Bob Holcomb, who has lived in Hampton for the past 11 years after moving to Carter County from Riverdale, Illinois, said that, compared to property tax rates in that state, Carter County is easy living. Though his wife handles finances for the family, Holcomb said she assured him that, if property taxes haven't increased in 11 years here, they probably weren't going to.
  "You probably want to talk to someone who has lived here all their life; not someone like me who moved here. Living here is nothing like Riverdale. It's easier," he said.
  "I don't think it's right to increase it any more," said Angie Haun as she was entering Appco, but she didn't care to elaborate.
  "It's too high already. I don't care much for the government," one man said, adamantly refusing to give his name or explain his opinion.
  As clouds gathered before another afternoon thunderstorm, one woman said, "I don't like it, but there's nothing I can do about it."
  The Carter County Budget Committee is scheduled to meet again on Monday, June 14 at 6 p.m., and the next meeting of the County Commission will be held Monday, June 28, at 7 p.m. All meetings of governmental bodies are open to the public.