One of the minor controversies to cross Columbia County in recent years has been the occasional disagreement regarding speed humps.
But love them or hate them, they clearly work. A study by the county's Construction and Maintenance Services Division confirms a huge drop in average speeds on roads with speed humps.
Not only do the humps slow down drivers; they also eliminate them. So annoying are the devices that some motorists will choose a different route, if available, thereby reducing traffic on neighborhood streets.
We know they work. And county officials long ago worked out a better system for installing them, eliminating the citizen-petition method that caused so much grief.
The bigger question: How to pay for them? That's easy; the county already has the blueprint.
Commissioners recently increased the price for streetlights. The tax is levied only on those who live in street light districts, and county officials found that the fee had not kept up with costs. As a result, taxpayers throughout the county were subsidizing neighborhood lights to the tune of half a million bucks a year.
That's been corrected with a small hike in the fee, along with a process to allow increases in the future to keep the books balanced.
Now: Shouldn't the county use the same rationale in paying for speed humps? It makes perfect sense: Residents who live in neighborhoods benefiting from speed humps should pay for them, rather than passing along the costs to every taxpayer - including, absurdly, those who live on dirt roads.
County Commission Chairman Ron Cross argues that citizens shouldn't have to pay for a 'safety feature,' but isn't that precisely what street lights are?
In fact, after the death of a pedestrian on Mullikin Road in Evans, residents asked commissioners for sidewalks and streetlights - and then settled for sidewalks because they didn't want to pay for streetlights.
How many neighborhoods would think twice about seeking speed humps if they also had to take into the account the cost of the devices, rather than passing it along to all other taxpayers?
Fair is fair, commissioners.
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