Thursday, September 11, 2014

Watch Those Tax Dollars, Folks

Marion County Taxpayers
The City-County Council voted on Monday to raise our taxes for the stated goal of putting more police on the street.  It's water under the bridge now.  It's up to us to make sure the money is used for that purpose.

As opponents of the tax increase point out, Mayor Greg Ballard has more money than his predecessors for public safety thanks to a 65 percent property tax increase passed under the Peterson Administration.  Also off the table was the pension issue that bedeviled the city's finances for many years.  That means that Mayor Ballard should have had millions to spend on hiring officers and increasing IMPD's ranks.

He hasn't done it.  Not even close.

He has failed to even keep up with attrition, and he now has asked, yet again, for more of our money.  Instead of standing in obstruction, the City-County Council passed the Mayor's request for more income tax dollars for more police.  The IBJ reports it's a 43 percent tax increase.

Most of the blogs in town have their dander up on the issue, and I admit that I'm not thrilled.  No one wants to open their checkbook a little wider at tax time.  This, however, is for public safety.  I've been saying that I'd like to see more police on the street, and the stated goal of this tax increase is to increase the ranks of IMPD.

Somehow, we never got back our tax money that Ballard said he'd return to us in 2007.  Clearly, that money was squandered somewhere.  Now that the Mayor has his new money, he and his predecessors must be held accountable as to where this new public safety dollars go.  We can't count on the local media to do it either, but we, as citizens, have to see the progress and then exercise our voices (and our votes) if it's not made.

If the officers are not hired, the ranks don't grow, and we end up with more pet projects, shame on not only the Mayor, but shame on the Council and shame on us.

I'm not sure this tax increase was the way to address our public safety problems.  We keep asking for more from taxpayers.  More money for schools.  More money for utilities.  While it's fair to ask us for more money for public safety, it just doesn't feel like the right timing to me.

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