As one observes the antics of what is currently going on in Taney County government they have to pinch themselves to make sure they are not watching “Peter Pan” in Never Neverland or “Yakov’s Moscow Circus.” At least that would be entertaining and all it costs is the price of a ticket.
Whether it’s the current property tax assessment fiasco, or the 23 million dollar proposed east west corridor road that only goes “half way to somewhere,” the leaders of Taney County have handled it in a manner than reminds someone of what would happen if four wild elephants ran amok in historic downtown Branson’s “Dick’s 5 & 10 Store” for about 30 minutes. It wouldn’t be pretty, but then the real estate tax assessment situation and the handling of the proposed $23 million east west corridor road aren’t pretty either.
In the 23 years that the Ole Seagull has lived in Taney County he has heard, on more than one occasion, the alleged dissatisfaction of eastern Taney County with what Branson and western Taney County is allegedly getting. During the last two election tax proposals it was almost like Branson and western Taney County owed eastern Taney County and should pay up by approving the requested tax increases. At the very least there has been and is a feeling of east versus west, but wait, “Don’t worry, Be Happy,” divide Taney County into two counties and happiness will rein.
The sound of the name “Branson County” has a nice ring to it and is even reminiscent of the name that would generate just about 100 percent of the new county’s revenues and, today generates an estimated 75 percent of Taney County’s existing revenues. Now before you laugh and write the Ole Seagull off ask yourself two questions.
The first is, “What do eastern Taney County and western Taney County have in common in terms of major industry and revenue generation? The second and more telling question is, “On average, over the last 20 years, how many dollars per year has the Taney County government committed to the specific tourism marketing of ‘Branson,’ the acknowledged generator of an estimated 75 percent of all its revenues? The Ole Seagull would suggest that the answer to the first and second questions would both be the same, “Not much.”
The good news for eastern Taney County and Branson is that there is a solution that might work out to the benefit of everyone if we can just work together to get it done. That potential solution is Missouri Revised Statue 47.310.1 relating to the procedure for dividing counties. To get the ball rolling it only takes a petition of “not less than one hundred voters of such county, duly entered of record, and setting out fully the proposed change, the reason and object thereof, and the boundaries of such county if the change were made.”
Although the process starts relatively simply, the Taney County Commission would have to decide whether or not to put it on the ballot and if approved by the voters, it would then go to the state legislature for their action. To say the least it wouldn’t be a slam dunk and would take a lot of work and planning.
But with the eventual outcome being that both eastern Taney County and the new Branson County would be able to control their own finances and destiny why not try? Let’s all hold hands and go skipping down the “yellow brick road” toward creating the new Branson County singing our, unifying and at the same time dividing, theme song, “Don’t worry, Be Happy.”