We’ve read time and time again in recent months, mostly in posts, speeches and articles related to the performance of perpetually-in-the-process-of-being-ousted City Manager Alfred Lott, that local taxes are on the decline in Albany.
Do the authors and speakers of this falsehood – elected officials, Lott and journalists — really think we’re that stupid?
The amount we pay the City of Albany and Dougherty County each year is growing. In no way does that equate to a tax decrease.
Indeed, while government budgets at all levels are shrinking nationwide, Albany’s municipal budget has, astonishingly, steadily increased. The number of budgeted employees, the number of executive-level officials, and the size of the city budget have grown over the last five years. A particularly slap in taxpayers’ faces – especially as we are untruthfully told that taxes are decreasing, is that the salaries of Albany City Commission members, their appointees and department heads have increased substantially higher than the national average.
Our property tax bill has increased, as have our water and sewer rates and our garbage fees, so how does city hall tell us – with a straight face – that they’re serving us well from a fiduciary standpoint? How did we get to this point when even some commissioners appear to believe the big lie perpetuated by whoever is in charge at city hall?
Easy. The City Commission recently began balancing the budget by raiding its rainy-day fund and the Water, Gas and Light Commission of millions of dollars each year.
When government costs more in a community with a diminishing population, each of its residents pays more. Sure, a tax increase certainly is possible. But it hasn’t happened recently in Albany.
Alcohol sales: Officials
just not smart enough
There are some issues at Albany city hall today that seem to be above the intellectual capacity of anyone in local government – even the lawyers on board.
One such issue is that of issuing licenses to sell alcohol.
In Georgia and many other states, because of a variety of historical factors and decisions related to the criminalization and former prohibition of alcohol sales, it is a privilege to possess the legal authority to sell alcohol.
That means that it is entirely up to governing boards of municipalities and counties whether to allow an individual or company to enter into or remain in the alcohol sales business. Surely, local governments can establish guidelines setting geographic parameters and other restrictions on potential alcohol licensees, but when it comes down it, if those parameters are met, it’s still a political decision.
In the Albany City Commission’s recent history, including during its current contemplation of whether to award an alcohol license near Albany State University, it’s clear that commission members don’t understand the concept of a privilege license,
Either you’re for or against awarding the license near the university. It’s that simple.
Commissioners should quit looking for someone to blame and, instead, take a stance, for a change.
By Kevin Hogencamp