Grads can make a difference

A common theme at high school graduations over the weekend was: The future is bright.

It’s true, Class of 2018, your future is bright. You can make a difference in this world — or at least in your own communities and homes.

Unfortunately, those who have come before you have left you in somewhat of a messy situation.

Oregon’s recycling is one. With no monetary value to recycling anymore — consumers habits have lead to dirty, unwanted recyclables — haulers have decided to take far less items than they used to. It’s going to be more difficult to be “green” as fewer items are accepted and more is going into landfills. Maybe someone from your class has the answer.

Many state and city services are struggling to maintain funding to keep up with population growth and increased standards. Government leaders will blame things such as Measure 5, that limits the increase in property taxes each year.

Measures such as this indeed play a part in the limited government coffers. Polk County has one of the lowest base property tax rates in the state — but rates quite high when all the local levies, bonds and other things are taken into consideration at the bottom line of property tax bills.

The elephant in the room is the Oregon Public Employee Retirement System, which continues to demand more and more money from local governments at all levels. Oregon’s PERS is — for better or for worse — sucking up money at a rate that is impossible to keep up with. That means our schools, public safety and local governments are having to do more with less money after paying out their share of retirement.

These are just two of the many issues you have to face — issues that others created before you. The future won’t be all roses and no thorns, but armed with knowledge, determination and a good work ethic, you’re right: You can make a difference.

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