Our opinion: A fairly calm year

On this last day of 2013, we’d have to say that the preceding 364 days have been relatively benign for Warren County.

Sure, there have been moments of controversy – it is, after all, Warren County – but none so consequential that they would send the school district spinning into disassembly as in previous years. Yes, we lost a school superintendent under particularly egregious circumstances, but the ship remained on course even after the captain was tossed overboard.

The murder rate in the county this year was zero, something everyone can be thankful for, and something of which relatively few communities can boast. Crime free? Absolutely not, but capital crime has taken a holiday.

Open, transparent government seems to have declined, and that’s an unfortunate trend.

The three county commissioners have apparently decided they can work more efficiently outside the pestering view of the public, revealing that over the past couple years they have been working hard to change the direction of tourism promotion in the county. Had they been up front about their reasons from the beginning of their quest, we believe they might have had a better chance of convincing the rest of the county’s local governing boards that theirs was the right course.

Then, there was that bit of embarrassment over the revelation that they had been negotiating with Warren General Hospital over some sort of payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) or service in lieu of taxes (SILT) to settle the on-going imbroglio over the hospital’s tax-exempt status. The county’s other two taxing bodies, Warren’s City Council and the Warren County School Board, learned of the negotiations from a secondary source: this newspaper.

Of course, the school board is no stranger to closed-door business. A few weeks ago the board huddled for its annual goal-setting meeting, wherein the direction of education for the county is set by consensus, not a vote, mind you, as the board president is quick to point out. That process, essentially a manipulation of semantics, is supposed to end-around the state’s Sunshine Law. We believe it fails in that regard.

We suspect that 2014 will bring the normal stew of news from this wonderful community that remains a great place to live and to raise families.