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Reader’s Forum — 6-28-13

City Manager hits nail on the head regarding recession

The City Manager has, as succinctly as possible, explained exactly why we should not enact this “garbage fee/tax hike.” His exact words: “it would not have been necessary at all had the city’s finances been where they were five years ago before the recession took hold.” Now replace “the city’s finances” with “the taxpayers’ finances” and you have the exact reason why a tax hike at this time is such a bad idea!
The city’s revenue from property tax and sales tax is not as high as it would prefer because businesses have closed, people have moved away, taxpayers have lost equity in their property and people have less money to spend, hence, less sales tax.
So from a “shared sacrifice” perspective, how much has the City cut its budget since the recession (the longest running and many people consider the worst since the Great Depression) began? The answer to how much they have cut: they haven’t! The budget has increased $3 million since the “Great Recession” began ($4 million if you go back one more year).
This is where the disconnect between bureaucrats and the taxpayer occurs. The bureaucrat says: “I see (because I am not receiving as much money as I would like from you) that you are struggling, so since you are struggling and I need my money, I will tax you more.” How much sense does that make? Why has the city not reduced its budget during this recession?
I have given this situation considerable thought and feel this is a very fair means to avoid this tax hike: #1Keep the Generals/Main improvement, #2 Retain the COLA, #3 Postpone the trash can purchase ($150,000 savings), #4 Overhaul the Christmas Bonus to a flat $500/employee ($148,500 savings), #5 Make a subtle reform to the City’s 100 percent coverage of health insurance premiums for family and dependents, asking the employee to contribute 10 percent ($120,000 savings) (this leaves the employee’s personal coverage totally intact). This leaves us $56,500 below the projected $475,000 that the trash tax is projected to produce. The remaining $56,500 could be taken from the General Fund balance. Seems like a fair compromise to avoid placing an additional tax burden on struggling taxpayers during this recession!

Bill Hitt
Lincolnton

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