Commentary

What a concept

‘Putting taxpayers first’ finally voiced by an elected official

A funny thing happened on the way to setting a proposed budget and tax rate last week at a Rockdale City Council meeting.

Here’s the way such things usually play out. The taxing entity talks about what difficult times these are, how many improvements just have to be made over the next year and how they are all taxpayers and don’t like to raise taxes.

Then they raise taxes.

Frankly, that’s what happened last week, too, but before it did, east ward council member Joyce Dalley spoke up.

She pointed out how the tax burden never seems to be the first priority of any entity and that tax-supported budgets don’t work like household budgets, where you figure out how much money you have, or will have, to spend, then do without, when needed, to meet that goal. In public budgets you figure out what services you’re going to provide and then do what it takes to fund them.

“We just keep going to the citizens for more money and more money and more money and they’re the ones who can least afford it,” Dalley said. “We really should start at how we can do some cutbacks and control our finances.”

That set the tone for the remainder of the discussion. By the time the two meetings were over the council had knocked down an initially proposed 6.7-cent tax increase to 5.3 cents. Fee increases in water and sewer rates will be around seven percent, about two percent in sanitation rates.

Dalley voted against it. So did council member Willie Phillips. The vote was 3-2 to propose the above figures.

The actual budget and tax rate will be decided in meetings later this month.

Dalley pointed out that not only are Rockdale area entities raising taxes again, but everyone has been hit with increases on utilities during the past year.

It may be like King Canute, who sent his army out to attack the tide to keep it from rolling in, to think any entity at any level can stem the annual hike in every kind of tax.

People do like their services and never want anything cut that affects them personally.

But, for a change, it’s nice that somebody noticed. And didn’t keep silent.—M.B.


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2013-08-15 digital edition



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