As former commission chair Bill Byrne told MDJ reporter Jon Gillooly, "Tim (Lee) has raised, in the middle of a double dip recession with 16 percent unemployment and 11 percent foreclosure increase over last year at this time ...our property taxes by 16 percent."
"There was an alternative," Byrne said, referring to his proposed $34 million budget cut. "But they chose to raise taxes."
Like Bill, who hopes to oust current chairman Tim Lee in next year's election, many fiscal conservatives in the county are shaking their heads at current leadership, wondering how they've abandoned the principles we've personally heard them espouse for years. They're obviously not letting this economic crisis go to waste.
Add to that their continuing assertions that we should depend on the federal government as the answer to the task of completing a massively expensive transportation/rail line, or maybe a "premium bus service" and who knows what else the special interests have planned for us, even though senators and congressmen have said it won't happen. Far from leading based on principles, the elected officials who continue this Halloween fantasy are supporting the proposed tax through their actions if not necessarily admitting it openly. It's easy to see they've joined the ranks of those who claim Cobb will somehow be left behind unless we agree to tax ourselves yet again.
There's more wrong with that entire scenario if you're conservative than I want to cite here.
The point is, local leaders' masks have slipped and it's too late to get them back on.
Byrne, who is a former Marine combat helicopter pilot in Vietnam and not always recognized for being the smiliest guy in the room, is telling the tough truths (“Byrne - A good opportunity for Tim,” Oct. 26 MDJ). He reminded us all that the property tax increase is the most publicized one, but there are more tricks we haven't discussed yet.
In both the January and August sessions, the Board of Commissioners approved a 6 percent increase in water rates.
"That represents a one mil tax increase on property taxes," Byrne said, on top of the first tax increase.
The commission plans to transfer at least $20 million of that into the general fund next year, he added.
"That's how they balance the budget, but my issue is nobody knows that and that was a sleight of hand trick by doing it in two phases so that nobody would pick up on it. But a 12 percent increase in water has a huge impact on small businesses."
It's already had a huge impact on our family with a college grad daughter, home and saving to move out on her own. Her increased water use plus the new rate increase has almost doubled our water bill.
Seems to me our leadership and the special interests who control them are up for lots of tricks, while we're left holding the bag, no treats in sight. Is that a "Bwa-ha-ha" I hear, coming from their haunted house? I think so.