Garner council members are debating whether to raise taxes to fund next year’s operations. They should.
Some council members – most notably Buck Kennedy – say they don’t want to raise taxes a year before they plan to raise them to help make bond payments.
That’s an understandable position, but it’s not focused on the right problem. Council members had, at one time, debated whether they might need to raise taxes at a higher-rate than promised to make bond payments. Ultimately they decided not to.
The question of whether to raise taxes this year is not about paying for the bond. It’s not about how much to increase taxes to pay for the bond. Instead, it’s about how best to pay for city operations from July 2014 through June 2015.
They are two separate questions and they should be answered independently.
The truth is, we’re always grateful when an elected official bird dogs government spending. But not all government spending is bad.
In this case, part of the reason for a proposed tax increase is to cover a shortfall in funding for the fire department. That’s money few would argue is unnecessary.
Part of the money is intended to help institute organizational restructuring which would free up the town manager to focus on the town’s long-term needs. And part of the money would be spent replacing town vehicles to keep the town from having to foot a really giant bill a few years down the road when lots of cars reach the end of their lives.
All that said, none of this spending affects the bond issue or the need to impose a tax increase next year to pay for the bonds that were overwhelmingly supported by voters.
Council members should be sure to look at the two issues as separate and apart. If they do, they will see a justifiable need for adjusting the tax rate both this year and next.