Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Watch Your Wallets

There's something in this Commercial Appeal story ("Support builds for authority to levy new taxes") that irks me, and it's not just that County officials want to find more ways into our wallets and paychecks.

It seems to me that writer Richard Locker, who was part of the mooing press crowd supporting the income tax a few years ago, is trying to inflate what's happening to make it look larger than it might be:
Last week, West Tennessee county mayors met in Jackson for a briefing on the issue. And next month, the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) is expected to endorse the concept, within limits.
That sounds like two, separate, things doesn't it. But...
The TACIR report, to be released at the think tank's Dec. 13-14 meeting in Nashville, could make the push for broader local tax authority a statewide effort.

Wharton said the Nov. 22 meeting of West Tennessee officials took no stance on the issue but was called to "begin to underscore the need for local autonomy for counties."
Well, it seems to me that if a State legislative committee is laying out the groundwork for giving Counties more and broader taxing powers, that's a pretty secure level of support for it. Yes?
State Reps. Randy Rinks, D-Savannah, and Jimmy Eldridge, R-Jackson, attended the TACIR briefing in Jackson. Both said Monday the issue should be nonpartisan. Both formerly served in local government: Rinks as mayor of Savannah and Eldridge on the Madison County Commission.

Rinks, who is also chairman of the TACIR board....
Ahhhh... there it is. It's all the same thing. TACIR calls a meeting to brief West Tennessee County officials on their legislative response to the requests of County leaders for increased taxing power. There's nothing "broad" or "increasing" about this. It's all part of the same, ongoing push to further gouge taxpayers.

Perhaps Wharton and the Shelby County crew might want to find out when Governor Bredesen is going to restore the "state shared tax revenues" he took from them when he submitted his first budget. Bredesen claimed it was needed to balance his first "austerity" budget. Three budget years later, with the State having run hundreds of millions in surpluses in tax revenue since, those revenues have never been restarted and sent back. Instead, Bredesen and Nashville's State legislators are making plans to spend it.

Bredesen took about $30 million that first year. It's what, in part, helped to precipitate the current County financial crisis, and has hobbled the County's ability to respond since. I'm sure Shelby County could do some real budget good with an infusion of $30 million this year.

Where's the Tennessee Municipal League been in all this? We pay them good money every year to lobby the State Legislature on behalf of the County, to no apparent avail. Maybe there's some more money to be found in taking back our dues.

There are options to explore before they start finagling to pilfer out wallets and pocketbooks and purses and money clips. Why is no one pressuring Wharton et al to do that first?

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