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Reader’s Forum — 5-29-13

A Tax By Any Other Name    
As our City Councilmen finalize their budget for the next fiscal year, they have publicly announced raises in both our water rates (approximately 2%) and electric rates (approximately 8%). If they truly believe the raises are justified, then they should be able to explain the rate increases to the citizens of Lincolnton. However, there is another increase cost for the residents that is quietly being added to the budget. Currently, the cost for trash pick-up is included in our property tax payments. With the new proposed stealthy “fee,” we will be charged $120 a year for the same service now included in our taxes, with no corresponding reduction in the property tax rate.
A tax rate increase by any other name is still additional tax money pulled from the pockets of all Lincolnton residents. The purpose of slipping the new charge in as a “fee” and a benign budget line item, is to allow Council members to walk around town and boast that they are keeping our property tax unchanged. Whether our elected officials call the increased monies taxes, fees, surcharges or special levies, it amounts to the same thing. More money out of our pockets. At the upcoming Council meeting, they should be ready to justify the increases in electric and water rates and the new trash pick-up charge. Can we look forward to next year when City expenses, currently covered by our property taxes, are changed to “fees” for fire and police protection, again with no corresponding decrease in the property tax rates? The political trick of camouflaging tax increases by a more politically acceptable term of a “fee” should not be meekly accepted by Lincolnton residents. Mayor John Gilleland and Councilman Devon Rhyne are opposed to this new “fee”. Tax (and fee) payers of Lincolnton should contact other Council members and inform them that the wallets of residents should not be further lightened by this new “fee.” The next Council meeting, during which the budget will be decided, will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 3. Any citizen of Lincolnton, with a concern for this $120 per year trash pick-up increase, is entitled to express their opinion to the Council members at this meeting.

Tom Hawk

Voter ID bill about politics
N.C. Speaker of the House, Thom Tillis, Republican, openly stated North Carolina has no problem with voter fraud.  And yet Mr. Tillis and the Republicans want to pass a Voter I.D. bill so they can crack down on voter fraud that doesn’t exist.  Since voter fraud is not a problem in N.C. then one must ask why this fiscal conservative governor and fiscal conservative Republican legislature want to spend at least 3.6 million of our tax dollars on a non-existent problem.
It’s because Voter I.D. is NOT about voter fraud.  It’s about politics.
N.C. Representative E. Starnes, Republican, introduced a bill that would end early voting on the last Sunday of early voting.  When asked why he explained “some things you just shouldn’t do on Sundays.”  African-American churches have “Souls to the Polls” day on the last Sunday of early voting. The last Sunday of early voting is when church members are taken to vote.  African-Americans came out in huge numbers to vote for President Obama.
N.C. Republicans introduced a bill to punish parents by imposing tax penalties on parents of college students who register to vote at school.  This was to discourage college students from voting.  We know college kids came out in droves to vote for President Obama.
The N.C. Voter I.D. bill requires a state-issued photo I.D. to vote.  Fifty-five percent of registered voters without photo I.D. are Democrats.  According to the NC Board of Elections, 318,000 registered voters have no N.C. photo I.D.  Of these 16% are elderly, 66% are women, 16% young people and 36% are African-American.  And again we know these groups came out in large numbers to vote for President Obama.
A good example of voter suppression is shown by PA. Representative Mike Turzai, Republican, who said the Voter I.D. law “is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
One can see a pattern here.  Republicans are desperate and are calling for desperate measures.  If you have to stop people from voting to win elections what does that say about your party and policies?

Donna Roulic

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