Giving a sincere ‘thank you’

Published 8:07 am Monday, February 8, 2016

In December, Kenbridge Town Council decided to give one decal per household to emergency workers living in the town — a $20 credit on town personal property taxes for those working with the fire department, rescue squad and police department.

It was the reversal of an earlier decision not to provide the decals.

So, what changed?

Well, nothing really.

In mid-November, council decided the town’s $20 license fee would appear on tax bills, meaning citizens would no longer have to come in and buy decals.

In adopting the change to the town ordinance, the council stuck with its decision to do away with the two-vehicle tax exemption for volunteer firefighters.

Some volunteer firefighters complained about losing the free decals, but council members insisted that dropping the exemption wasn’t intended to increase revenue but only to simplify bookkeeping.

Councilmembers also noted  at the time that the exemption could be considered unfair because few of the local volunteer firefighters who respond to local calls live in town — and, at the time, members of the rescue squad don’t receive the same exception.

But town officials always made it clear that they wanted to recognize their volunteers. The question had always been not “if” the volunteers should be honored, but “how?”

Town leaders wondered how do you really and sufficiently recognize the contributions of these volunteers.

In the end, Mayor Emory Hodges noted that if other localities can provide exemptions, Kenbridge will be able to do it too.

Ultimately, town leaders decided the credit was the easiest and safest way to acknowledge the sacrifices of the town’s volunteer responders.

We can understand that.

The truth is, that “thank you” doesn’t begin to recognize the importance of local volunteers and what they contribute to the community, and decals are only a token.

Of course, these volunteers know that they are making their community better and, in that way, making their own lives better — though we know that recognition is always nice and always appreciated.

Sometimes a thank you and token is all that can be given, and they are given sincerely.