So what was all the fuss about? That’s the question Winder city council members should be asking Mayor Chip Thompson about the new storm water tax the mayor wanted to impose on citizens and businesses this fall.
As followers of Winder’s city government know, the mayor’s idea crashed and burned after some of the town’s leading businessmen opposed the hefty new tax, which would have amounted to thousands of dollars many of them would have had to pay. Homeowners, too, would have been hit.
That was a huge political defeat for the mayor, who had pushed the tax by trying to ram it through the city council before anyone knew what was happening. No public hearings. No advance notice. Extreme pressure on the council by saying action had to be taken immediately.
Now it turns out that the mayor’s arm-twisting was probably premature anyway. A spokesman for the EPD, which oversees storm water rules, told a Journal reporter this week that it isn’t clear if Winder will even come under the rules. That will depend on the density found in the 2010 census, and that won’t be clear for two or three more years after EPD officials analyze the data.
So what was all the rush and push about? If Winder doesn’t yet fall under the regulations, why was this even an issue in the first place?
Could it be some city leaders saw this as a way to enact a tax hike through the back door under false pretenses? If enacted, the new tax could have replaced other revenues that in turn could have been spent in other areas of city government.
We’d hate to think city officials are that sneaky about city finances, but the recent track record of city dealings makes one wonder if there wasn’t more to this ill-fated new tax than first met the eye.
It’s a bad time for tax hikes and new taxes. The local economy is reeling from the recession and local governments need to show more restraint in their spending.