Buckle Up Roswell, Here Comes Another Proposed Stealth Tax Increase

Roswell mayor and council opt for debt over tax relief.

Though the dust has yet to settle from the crushing defeat Georgia voters handed politicians and their special interest cronies on TSPLOST, tone-deaf Roswell city officials are asking voters to approve a local tax increase that is cleverly packaged as a .

What the folks on Hill Street don’t seem to understand is TSPLOST went down in flames not only because increasing taxes is a hard sell in a weak economy, but primarily because voters became aware that TSPLOST was being promoted on a false premise; that it would “Untie” traffic congestion. Taxpayers are simply fed up with being lied to and manipulated. Apparently Mayor Wood and all six Roswell council members didn’t get the memo. 

There wasn’t an empty seat in Council Chambers Monday night when Roswell Finance Director Keith Lee rose to make a sales pitch for debt financing future capital projects – including an abundance of “nice to haves.” His presentation was followed by transparently staged comments and questions from the mayor and council. 

Next came public comments during which time local budget hawk Lee Fleck took to the podium armed with facts and figures garnered from the city’s own documents. Page by page Fleck exposed the fact that the Mayor and Council are asking taxpayers to forgo tax relief in exchange for needless debt. After that Finance Director Lee had nowhere to go but admit that the city has enough in the kitty to pay off the present bond which would result in sufficient revenue over time to finance the high-priority capital projects -- without floating new bonds.

The only apparent benefit to piling on more debt rather than paying as we go is the city would have the cash on hand to do the projects in a shorter time frame – maybe. But as Mayor Wood acknowledged, many of the projects on the list require state approval and that, he noted, can take years. 

So, why the push for bonds? My guess is the city wants them as a contingency source of revenue in the event the economy continues to weaken and real estate values decline even further – a very real possibility. In effect the proposed new bonds are a tax hike that might be used to insulate city employees from additional decline in the general tax revenue. As Georgians know too well, once politicians have our money they always seem to find a way keep it and use it however – no matter what was promised or written in the law.

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Lee Fleck August 16, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Roswell's 25% property tax increase. Instead of retiring the debt service millage rate and rolling it over into the general fund It is on the city website and it Is simple math: 1.396 debt millage rate divided by the total millage rate of 5.455 which will remain the same and that equates a 25% property tax increase. To see for yourself Go to the city website link: http://www.roswellgov.com/index.aspx?NID=1228 Click on "Council Budget Presentation, January 23 2012" (on the left column) Then scroll to page 14 and look at the last three lines. It a matter of public record. By State Law the City will have to advertise the roll over as a property tax increase. But not until after the bond referendum is voted on in November. How convenient for the Mayor & Council.
Dianne August 16, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Richard.............thank you again for another very thoughtful and informational article. As you stated, obviously the city council and mayor didn't understand what the voters meant when they voted NO on the TSPLOST. We do not want any new taxes, no matter how they try to disguise it.
Bruce August 16, 2012 at 10:26 PM
The city attorney will get a fee for any bonds. How much does he get? Randy Travis did a story in Douglas County that school board attorney Ken Bernard got $1.2 million for school bonds as his fee. No one else the state or probably the country got anything like this. Mr. Bernard, at the same time, was the attorney for the county board of commissioners. After the revelation of his more than one million payday, Mr. Bernard left the employment of the school board. By the way, he also received the highest pay of any school board attorney in ADDITION to the bond fee. You can view the video of all this at Randy Travis and also the Douglas County Taxpayers Coalition (DCTC).
Just Nasty and Mean August 17, 2012 at 11:32 AM
I can only hope the voters of Roswell SLAP city council in the face with a HUGE NO VOTE. Maybe---just maybe--it will get their attention that taxpayers are FED UP with a constant flow of their wealth being funneled to the government for their priorities. Virtually EVERY ONE of these council members stood in front of their prospective voters declaring they were "fiscal conservatives" and now--like snakes--they turn around and bite taxpayers in the arst with a subliminal tax obligation. Well--ENOUGH! Roswell council---ENOUGH of your sneaky lies and subliminal redistribution of wealth. ENOUGH!
Lee Fleck August 18, 2012 at 12:34 AM
There is an implied contract between citizens and a governing body with regard to a general obligation bond. When voters agree to tax themselves, they expect that when a bond is retired the tax should go away. But I am embarrassed to say not so in Roswell.


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