East Ridge is planning to raise your taxes. They need more money for “salary stabilization;” in other words, they’d like to give themselves a raise. An extra raise, on top of the three percent already budgeted for next year.
When I recently asked City Manager Chris Dorsey for simple details, like “which positions would receive how much,” I was told those details hadn’t been thought through yet. I was told that figuring out the specifics ahead of time was simply too much work. I was told it was better to “guesstimate” how much money was needed ($600,000), take that amount from taxpayers, and figure out how to spend it later. Imagine running a business this way!
Recently, I put together a big proposal at work, for a twentieth of this amount. Every detail was lined up in advance, and it went through about six layers of management review. If I had taken the City’s approach and said “give me the money now, and I’ll figure it out,” I would have been laughed out of the room and probably fired. The City should take more care than a private business, rather than less, to make sure our money is used efficiently: the uniquely coercive power of taxation requires special responsibility.
The sad reality is that the City doesn’t care if your hard-earned money is well-spent, because the City can just take what it wants whether the money is used wisely or wasted.
Consider, for example, the $130,000 they’re about to spend because of a paperwork error. The City had a grant covering sidewalk construction, and just didn’t bother to spend it before it expired. City officials didn’t blink before committing you and me to paying the difference out-of-pocket.
Furthermore, this tax hike is planned right after the worst economic crash since the Great Depression. Many in East Ridge would have preferred a raise over losing their jobs this past year. Unfortunately, that’s not how it worked out, and raising taxes when savings are depleted and prices are soaring is not a solution.
I urge every voter in East Ridge to contact the City Council now and ask them to vote against such a poorly-planned, ill-timed tax hike. Don’t wait until this plan is officially announced, or you may as well go ahead and get the checkbook.
_ Charles McCullough