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The whim of steel
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We have a very interesting story by Patrick Rodgers this week on property taxes in Chatham County. None too soon, either - the current round of assessments should be in your mailboxes soon, if they haven't come already.

While currently your home property tax assessments are capped for three years - due to action by the state legislature - don't rest easy. Critics of our local system, like former County Commissioner John McMasters, have long said it doesn't pass the smell test.

The most recent shock to the public came in the last round, when many properties saw a 40 percent increase in valuation in the middle of the worst economy in 80 years. The answer they got back at the time was that each assessment is essentially a year in arrears, meaning that the catastrophic economy has not yet had a chance to weigh in on local assessments.

But who believes assessments will go down locally, regardless of the global economy? Anyone who's been paying property taxes in Savannah, as I have for the past 12 years or so, knows this is highly unlikely to say the least.

As in all things, it behooves us to stay informed and never let our guards down.

I did want to address a cogent comment a reader posted on our website soon after one of my recent columns skewering our local Democratic majority city and county government. While the reader essentially agreed with me, he wondered why I wasn't also making the same points about the current Democratic president and Congress in Washington -- who according to the reader are engaged in a similar kind of intrusive and unaccountable government expansion.

It's a very good and valid question, and I felt a need to address it in this space.

The prime difference between Capitol Hill in D.C. and City Hall on Bay Street is that our local government is not trying to dig itself out from under eight years of egregious and irresponsible misrule. President Obama is undertaking a Herculean task: Mucking the Augean Stables of the Bush era, while simultaneously trying to realize his own vision for a more progressive America.

Whether he will succeed or not is very much an open question, and almost entirely dependent on the patience and critical thinking skills of the American people (i.e., he pretty much hasn't got a snowball's chance in hell).

Agree with Obama or not, he is clearly facing a massive challenge with much at stake. Our local government, on the other hand, seems to be governed by a whim of steel. There seems to be no compelling reason for their often selective micromanagement other than the ease with which they can do it.

There's my answer, for what it's worth. I do hope to be proven wrong in the future.