Thursday, April 21, 2016

Davidson Commissioner Graham - No "agreement" on tax increase

Davidson is in the throws of budget season and Commissioners have been discussing a large number of capital projects that add up to a very large dollar amount leading to a possible "massive" taxi increase for Davidson residents.

That was the upshot of a comment I made on my Facebook page a couple weeks ago.

Commissioner Rodney Graham took a bit of an issue with the use of the word "massive" and made this comment on Facebook about the pending tax increase.

Commissioner Graham asked us to present facts when we have them, so here you go.

40 cents per day translates to about $146 per year for the "average" household.  Depending on where you get your average number that's likely somewhere in the 3.5  cent - 5.0 cent range on Davidson's tax rate.  That's 10% - 14.3% in percentage terms.  That falls roughly in the middle of the range of possible tax increases in the scenarios presented by staff.  The high end was 9.6 cents if the town bonded everything on its wish list.

Here are some other facts.

At 35 cents, Davidson already has by far the highest rate in North Mecklenburg AND by far the highest solid waste fee at $201 per single family home.

Those two inconvenient facts often cause certain electeds to cringe when they are mentioned.  From Commissioner Brian Jenest and Mayor John Woods those facts often elicit comments like "that's not a fair comparison" or "it's apples and oranges" or "Davidson is very different from its neighbors."

But we digress....back to Commissioner Graham's comments.

Since Graham made his comments on April 6th about a "agreement" between Commissioners on a tax increase, there have been two public meetings where this could have been mentioned but wasn't.  There was the April 12th Board meeting where they discussed new options for the Catalyst Project which could now involve significant public funding.  There was also the Commissioner "chat" this past Monday discussing the various capital projects themselves and the possible funding options for them.

In both cases, the idea of an exact tax increase amount was never mentioned.

So, it seemed like a good idea to verify with Commissioners if there was any "agreement" in the works behind the scenes.  Two responses were received to an email request for that verification on Tuesday.

The first was from Commissioner Graham himself walking back his earlier comment.

"I will clarify my comment on your facebook page.  That was solely my opinion. I was incorrect to use the word agreement as that implies a written document that was voted upon, and it further implies that I was expressing an opinion of the entire Board when I was only expressing mine.

I enjoy participating in any discussions but need to be more careful in clarifying when opinions are only my own.

In general yes I think any significant indebtedness that the Town undertakes should be voted upon. Personally I would not see parking or town facilities being treated any differently than parks, roads, sidewalks and green ways.but that's only my opinion."

Commissioner Stacey Anderson was pretty straight forward in her response to the idea of an agreement.

"I am not sure what Rodney is referencing in his Facebook posts."

No other Commissioners responded.

So, there are the facts we wanted to present -since we had them.

No "agreement" on what would be a reasonable tax increase has been voted on or written down among Commissioners.  It's good to know because that of course would mean a violation of open meetings law if it had occurred in a closed meeting.

Glad to know that didn't happen!

Then again, one has to wonder why a Commissioner would even think of using the word "agreement" if rather specific discussions hadn't occurred leading to such an opinion.

If there's a good thing to take from this its that at least one Commissioner thinks these big ticket items should be voted on by the public if they do go forward.

Ultimately, that would put the decision in voters' hands...and, nullify any "agreement" between Commissioners even if one had occurred.

Which apparently, it didn't...

No comments:

Post a Comment