Both Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield and supporters of a proposed "town of Hamilton" raise valid points about the proposal.
The new town, if approved, would take in the areas of Birchwood, Georgetown, Harrison and Ooltewah. The impetus behind creating the town is concern about high taxes if Chattanooga should ever annex the area - and the belief that a town of Hamilton could provide good services and reasonable tax rates.
Chattanooga has "no plans for expanding that far north," Littlefield said during a meeting of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's Ooltewah-Collegedale Council. And he questioned whether the proposed town could keep down costs as much as its supporters are hoping.
"I think it's going to be far more than they expected," he cautioned.
He could be right. Putting together a town cannot possibly be a simple - or cheap - task. So it's clearly wise for residents of the area that would be incorporated to think long and hard before a potential referendum in November.
But one thing may surely be said in favor of the push for a town of Hamilton: Unlike traditional annexation of new areas by an existing city, the residents of the area that would become part of Hamilton would exercise free choice in the matter. Majority vote by people in the affected area would decide whether they become part of the town or remain unincorporated.
If they create the town and it turns out that costs are reasonable, taxes are low and services are adequate, residents will reflect proudly on the wisdom of their decision. If, on the other hand, costs and taxes are higher than anticipated, residents will not suffer the added frustration of those conditions having been imposed against their will. Self-determination will place on residents the benefits if the new town meets expectations and the responsibility if it does not.
That is far preferable to outside imposition.