City tax rise follows last year's bigger rise
There is an old adage which says: "Stand for something or you will fall for anything." Apparently the City Coucil and Mayor of Rockdale believe that the citizens will fall for anything.
Just one year ago, this city passed a budget with a 22-percent tax increase, which was opposed by the majority of taxpayers, but was approved nonetheless. Now, the people that were elected to lead this city feel they can force another tax increase down our throats with little or no problem.
For the very reasons stated as a tax increase being needed, I believe that such an increase is absolutely not needed and totally unnecessary. Milam County has one of the highest unemployment rates in Texas, mostly caused by Alcoa shutting down the plant here. Those individuals who were laid off are now trying to make ends meet and the very last thing they need is a property tax increase. This will only add insult to injury and cause them more distress and hardship.
Another reason stated for the need of a tax increase is to give the empoyees of the City of Rockdale a cost-of-living allowance (COLA). This is absolute nonsense since most, if not all, city employees received very hefty pay raises and salary increases in last year's budget. New city vehicles were also bought for many employees, yet now they need a COLA because they can not live on the income they make. I believe this should be tabled indefinitely until the economy improves.
The third reason given for such a large tax increase is a proposed Capital Improvement Plan. This should also be tabled and set aside until the economy improves. Everyone who has lived here very long knows that the roads are extremely bad, the water is awful, the water lines are worn out and the city needs repairs. However, these have existed for years and putting them off for a while will not destroy this town.
I remember the mayor stating that the city council and he were trying to run this town like a business. My suggestion is to do so.
Businesses decrease their budgets in lean times. Indeed, they tighten their belts and make hard choices. They institute hiring freezes, freeze wages, find ways to eliminate non-essential items in their budget, and, when and if necessary, cut employees.
This tow n has seen ma ny changes in the past year, including the closing of Alcoa (which should not have affected the City of Rockdale very much at all since Alcoa was in Milam County, not in the city). It's also seen a huge increase in commercial property rates, a decrease in sales tax rebates, loss of citizens who have put their homes up for sale, and various other incidents. For the council and mayor to now demand another 10-percent tax increase is nothing less, in my opinion, than fiscal irresponsibility and malfeasance of office.
It is time for the council and mayor to find the nonessential items in the budget and begin trimming this year's budget even further so it will not be necessary to raise property taxes by another 10 percent (a two-year total of 32 percent).
I urge each of you to contact your city council representative and Mayor John Shoemake and let them know that we "will stand for something and we will not fall for anything." Names and phone numbers are below:
• Mayor Shoemake, 446-7122 • Griffin Rogers, 512-567-4466 • J.T. Talley, 446-2152 • Willie Phillips, 760-7158 • Tom Fisher, 760-6300 • Gerry Offield, 446-6718 • Allan Miller, 446-5841 Sincerely, Glenn Landrum 1501 Highland Ave. Rockdale