If only our county administrators were as adept at other matters as they are at the spin they use in feeding the public information, we would have a far better government.
If there is good news to announce it is proudly issued by the mayor. If there is less favorable data to put out it is the duty of the mayor’s assistant, or if it is really unpleasant it is presented by the mayor’s information officer.
Nowhere is this hierarchy more noticeable than in budget matters, particularly taxation issues. TGI’s April 7 article on the budget is illustrative.
The county reported that this year’s budget is higher because of higher assessments. There is no compelling relationship between assessments and government spending. It is simply that when assessments rise spending can increase without higher tax rates.
The fiscal year 2007 proposed budget is $9.3 million greater than the 2006 budget. The information officer “explains” that this budget “anticipates” increased property tax revenues “mostly related to new construction and properties that were previously not assessed.” We are not told what properties were previously not assessed or the extent of the new construction or the amount of the increase to be borne by the patient ongoing taxpayers. Ah, wilderness.
The information officer noted that residents need not fret about additional revenues bloating the budget and said that the county has the potential to receive $12.8 million next year but the mayor is recommending these funds “be given back to residents in the form of property tax relief.” Classically property tax revenues were comprised by the product of assessments and tax rates, but responding to citizens grievances about government spending and its impact on taxes, the council has enacted measures, principally the 2 percent cap to offer tax relief. The mayor can’t “give back” what isn’t his, the reduced payments ease the undue burden that would otherwise exist.
Our government instead of trying to soothe citizens about soaring spending should devote their thoughts to controlling the costs of necessary services. The time has come for a limit on government spending.
- Walter Lewis is a resident of Princeville.