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It came as no surprise that local municipal and county leaders recently endorsed SPLOST VI. The SPLOST money is like crack cocaine; one hit and you're addicted.
How wonderful to be blackmailed by elected leaders: Pass the SPLOST or your property taxes are going up. Good luck getting re-elected by offering taxpayers our choice of tax increases in the midst of a recession.
Here is the not-so-hidden secret: Our property taxes have increased dramatically not just despite the existence of SPLOST, but because of its existence. Most capital projects funded by SPLOST do not pay for themselves. They require supplements from the general fund to operate and maintain.
Tax collections in Hall County will plummet in 2009. Taxpayers who have endured upward property reassessments year after year will demand devaluations. Other revenue streams funded by taxes like impact fees and building permits (yes, any money paid to the government is a tax, not a fee) have drastically fallen.
Undoubtedly, sales tax collections will decrease as well. We have been told that SPLOST projects will be adjusted downward if collections are reduced. What about the city of Gainesville, which has borrowed $15 million against future SPLOST dollars that have yet to be approved? So much for those assurances. Projects will undoubtedly continue regardless of collections and government will continue to borrow against future anticipated SPLOST dollars.
I am certain that we will hear lots about how this government spending will stimulate the economy. Anyone who actually believes that increased government spending helps the economy is ignorant of the lessons of history. The only measure that will improve our increasingly bleak economic outlook is reduced taxation at every level. With more money in their pockets, individual Americans will choose for themselves how to stimulate the economy.
I am exceedingly concerned about the relationship between the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce and the SPLOST VI advertising campaign. Local governments are prohibited by law from advertising in favor of the SPLOST. Meanwhile, the Hall County Commission provides thousands of tax dollars to the chamber each year for economic development.
The chamber announced that it will launch an advertising campaign in the coming weeks to promote the tax increase. At best, this is a clear conflict of interest. Imagine, our tax dollars paying for advertisements to raise our taxes even more. Unbelievable!
Some of my fellow citizens along with our civic leadership will do their best between now and March 17 to convince you that a vote for SPLOST VI is not a tax increase, merely an extension. My advice is for you to review your recent property tax records and evaluate the truth of that proposition for yourselves.
The truth is that what SPLOST builds, increased property taxes pay for.
Time to live up to president's example
First, let me say I'm truly sorry to Mrs. Weeks and Ms. Loggins regarding my letter to the Times on Jan. 19 for assuming that I was referring to everyone who didn't vote for Barack Obama was prejudice and racist.
I'm no Miss Cleo "The Psychic." Therefore, I wouldn't dare label all Hall Countians or everyone in the Southern states who didn't vote for Obama as such. But nevertheless, it does exist strongly in the South, though labeling everyone would be insane.
I would like to congratulate blacks across America for showing the world that we can come together in multitudes with people of all colors, celebrate and rejoice without violence. Willie Mitchell, president of the Gainesville Chapter of the NAACP, said it reminded him of the Million Man March he attended.
That touched me dearly to know that we've come from "me riding on my mom's back" while she picked cotton in Alabama when I was a boy, and before her generation; blacks having their feet cut off because they ran from plantations; our families being sold off like livestock to the highest bidder; having police dogs attack during the Civil Right Movement; and having to eat on separate sides of public dinners.
Now we have a black president and it's my duty, as a black man, to see that we clean up our act. That goes for the drug dealer on the corner of mostly every hood in America. The teenager who kills someone because they refuse to give up their money or vehicle. The parolee who gets out of prison and commits another crime, leaving kids to grow up without a father or mother.
Yes, America, I am proud of my new black president and it's up to me, the black man, to do more and be more than who I'm being portrayed on the evening news or the movies. I'm proud to be black. I'm proud to be an American.
I know this may be blown out of proportion, also. But, this is my opinion and it's based on this little thing called freedom of speech.
Michael Jackson Sr.
We hear only one side of bailout argument
While listening to television coverage from the U.S. House of Representative, a representative who sits on a committee dealing with the bailout programs stated the following: "We have been working with President Obama and economists about the urgency of going forth now. All 10 of the economists said ‘do it now!'"
We all know that President Barack Obama wants it done now. But in hearing other news programs and newspaper articles and editorial comments, we are shown that not everyone thinks it must be done now. Why then does the Congressional Study Committee hear only one side of the equation? Wouldn't that lead you to believe that the president wants only one answer?
This is the same president and government that wants fair and equal time for all issues. I guess that applies only when it is in their best interests.
Listen to what is being said. I fear we are being programmed. What do you think? You can't come up with a good answer unless both sides of an issue are heard.