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Don't complain to my friend, Tim Bunch, if your sausage biscuit costs more the next time you eat at Longstreet Cafe. Instead, complain to the members of our city council who voted to raise his sewer and water rates by 6 percent and increase his property taxes, too.
During this economic crisis, when so many businesses have closed and so many people have lost their jobs and homes, it's hard to imagine a water, sewer and tax increase, but it happened.
It happened because falling revenues and federal mandates have left local governments with less money to operate and it's going to get worse with state cutbacks. Our elected officials must act now to reduce spending, merge services and lower taxes because failure to do so will be harmful to our community. We cannot afford to lose any more businesses or jobs, which is why I'm asking the Chamber of Commerce to get involved.
Why not just reduce spending? When the mayor of Gainesville says, "We've cut to the bone. We've cut back people and ... cut departments" then other solutions, like mergers or consolidations, are needed.
Hall Commissioner Bobby Banks, understanding the gravity of the situation, has suggested combining the fire departments to cut down on duplicate services and a water-sewer authority to end the political power struggle.
Why is it important to lower property taxes? Lower taxes are better for families, businesses and government. If taxes are lowered, businesses have more of their own money to invest which creates jobs. If taxes are lowered, families have more of their own money to pay their mortgages, provide for their children, purchase their own health insurance and have money to spend, which stimulates our local economy. The government reaps benefits in the form of revenue.
John Kennedy said, "It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now." He understood reducing taxes is the best way to increase revenues and not reducing taxes was bad, even for government.
Elected officials are wrong to think they did a good job because they didn't raise taxes. Explain that to everyone who has reduced their budget by 20-30 percent. The foreclosure notices should serve as a constant reminder, to every elected official, that if they had voted to lower taxes, some people might have been able to keep their homes.
If we are going to thrive as a community, it is absolutely critical that our elected officials downsize our governments. People are tired of hearing we've been down this road before. Politics have taken priority over savings long enough.
The question is not can we downsize, but do we have the right leadership to do it? I believe we do and the proof will be when we see our tax bills go down. And anything less can be said in one word: Unacceptable!