Army Lt. Col. James L. Walker (retired)
Think before you tax
Chris Seibert’s win for the District 1 City Council seat is a real step forward for the citizens of Athens.
The City Council now has three new forward-looking members, two of whom are young and thinking in terms of what their own young children will be facing in the future. No more hair-brained schemes that aren’t in all the citizens’ best interests, like the $600,000 CNG public fill pump that will receive little, if any, meaningful use and add very little to the bottom line for a return on the city’s cost.
Former city councilman Crawford stated in last Sunday’s paper that the consensus of the citizens were not in favor of a sales tax increase. He further stated that the city didn’t have a serious financial problem, it only needs better judgment as to how it expended its funds.
The mayor recently stated that if an increase is approved by the council, “he wants those additional revenues reserved for specific line-item projects.” This type of specific use policy is contrary to good business management and use of funds. It forces the use of funds to particular areas that can become less critical and beneficial to the quality of life in the future.
The primary concern should be funding for infrastructure improvement and upgrading, which is critical to the quality of life, attraction to new retail businesses and industrial interests, and potential tourism needs. At no time should a funding allocation become a permanent line item account. This is only a sham to protect the funding of special interests that may not be critical to the city and its citizen’s best interests. There should never be set percentage funding allocations because this restricts future funding adjustments as required to accommodate the change in priorities.
Any sales tax increase would be the first in 37 years and should be given in-depth review and analysis and the long-term effect of such action, not something that seems nice right now. Short-term effects would include reduced businesses income, reduced general quality of life as families’ incomes are reduced.
Let’s give our new council members strong support as they study the long-term critical needs of Athens and the short-term effect of indiscriminate funding allocations and capital expenditures.
It’s a new day in Athens with an independent council that can think for itself. No more special deals for anyone.