Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Impertinet Observations (local, state, & federal)


At tonight’s regular voting session, our betters down at City Hall will extend one moratorium and enact another.  The first continues the original six month suspension of pretty much everything on Carr's Hill until February 2011. The second ceases the acceptance of applications for new solid waste haulers for a full year.  These moratoria demonstrate the complete unpredictability of the county’s zoning ordinances (being subject to outright suspension at the drop of a hat – talk about making economic development much more difficult that it should be) and the impending government takeover of trash hauling in the general services district (not that the Unified Government will provide said service, mind you), respectively.


Also on the agenda is City Hall’s annual wish list for the upcoming session of the General Assembly.  Those items of particular interest to me are:

D. Support comprehensive tax reform.

Translation: The state, and by extension counties, should raise taxes by, among other things, “expand[ing] the sales tax base by adding selected services to the current list of taxable services in Georgia,” and “expand[ing] the sales tax base including internet sales.”  There are other suggestions, such as “closing corporate tax loopholes,” “modernizing income tax brackets,” and “reviewing tax exemptions,” that all sound well and good on the surface but, as always, the devil would be in the details as to how those ideas may translate into policy.

H. Support increase in hotel/motel tax to 8%.

Translation: Let us raise taxes for ourselves.

J. Support abolishment of unanimity rule in support of local requests for legislative issues – none of us operates on such a stringent rule and our requests should not be held to such a high standard.

Translation:  The current rules do not let us impose our progressive madates on the little people with complete impunity; therefore the rules must be changed.


Now that the dust has (more or less) settled from the elections, one thing remains constant: Fire Station No. 6 is still closed.  For what it is worth, that chain-link fence surrounding the station for the last twenty months has come down.  Even though major construction appears to be complete, no reopening date has been announced.


The Federal Reserve is poised to purchase Treasury notes – and in a big way – so as to ostensibly promote inflation, thereby reducing unemployment (yeah, like that is going to work).  This is nothing but an insider shell game.  When inflation takes off, and given the dubious fiscal and monetary actions out betters in Washington (Donkeys and Elephants both, but more so the former) have taken over the past several years it certainly will, the genie will be out of the bottle and we will all have to pay (and pay and pay).


The growth in the size and expense of the federal government typically lessens during those periods when one party controls the White House and the other controls one or both of the House and Senate.  Works for me.  Besides, had the Republicans taken both chambers, the Obama Administration would have blamed the GOP (you know, that "punish our enemies" mentality) for its own manifest failures (not that it won’t do so in any event), just as it has heralded supposed Republican obstructionism during its first two years (which is obviously disingenuous because the Republicans didn’t have the votes to stop anything and the Democrats got precisely the legislation they wanted).  Facts being such pesky things and all.

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Anonymous said...

Speaking of local government, a recent newsletter from the city (solid waste department?) included an article about declining recycling revenue. It seems the private haulers are taking their stuff to Gwinnett county. There must be a legitimate explanation for that, but alas, this ACC publication neglected to explain THAT part! I WONDER if maybe the city will REQUIRE private haulers to use the ACC landfill/ recycling facility? Sure would goose the numbers in a more pleasant direction!

On the negative side, the overwhelming support for SPLOST was a pretty good indicator that most voters are happy with that process, the projects -- and by extension -- the M & C and management-run government. As much as I hate to admit it, critics of ACC simply are outgunned (and out-voted) by those who have confidence in their leaders. That's a democracy for you!

James said...

You pose an interesting question vis-a-vis private haulers and the landfill.

I will weigh in with some "final" comments on the SPLOST 2011 ballot resolution in a day or two.

Yes, for good of ill it is a democratic republic. Like the man said, though, I think that we need better class of voters. :)

Anonymous said...

"H. Support increase in hotel/motel tax to 8%.

Translation: Let us raise taxes for ourselves"

Are you saying you live in a hotel/ motel?

James said...

"Ourselves" in this sense means the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, in and of itself, given the ability to do so by the state.

But then I assume the question was meant tongue-in-cheek (though I do like those little bars of soap).

Anonymous said...

It was tongue-in-cheek but also serious. Unless an ACC resident is going to stay in a hotel/ motel, then it doesn't affect "us," only those who come into the community from outside. And, yes, I think that those who live outside our community and pay property taxes in other places but who flush our toilets, drive on our roads, contribute to our trash etc should pay something towards the cost of providing those services through a tax on their nights of slumber spent here. Call it a pay-as-you-go tax for the provision of public goods -- I thought that was supposed to be the fiscally conservative/ responsible way to do things, right? :-)

Btw, the ACC govt cannot unilaterally raise the tax. There would have to be a referendum and th epeople would have to vote to do so. All that the folks at city hall are asking is for the state guys to let there be a referendum. I thought guys like you liked that kind of local control/ decision-making, but perhaps not :-)

Anonymous said...

"Btw, the ACC govt cannot unilaterally raise the tax. There would have to be a referendum and th epeople would have to vote to do so. All that the folks at city hall are asking is for the state guys to let there be a referendum."

Actually, scratch that last bit about the referendum -- I was confusing it with something else. But the principle remains the same -- local control.

James said...

I am all for local control as a matter of political philosophy - and quite rightly so. But, as you well know, we do not live in a philosophical world.

My philosophical desire is for it to be harder for government - at all levels - to further impose its mandates, dictates, and expenses (in the form of either taxes or mandatory "fees") on me, my life, and my property. But again, as you well know, we do not live in a philosophical world. :-)

The problem is that the current crowd down at City Hall has yet to meet a regulation or tax (or fee) that it doesn't like. The Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County simply wants more revenue, and does not appear to be too selective (expanding the existing sales tax to cover more things, imposing an internet sales tax, increasing the local hotel/motel tax, imposing a septic tank fee, imposing a trash hauling fee, etc.) as to from where it comes.

And I still like those little bars of soap.