Daily Archives: October 23, 2015
I love being surprised. As I was leaving my lunch today, a young lady spoke to me about the previous post that I did concerning pot holes. She was giving her approval to the fact that I was trying to be responsive to the needs, while at the same time, kinda chiding me for “you were really asking for it.” I sat down at her table to finish the conversation and finish my banana pudding dessert.
The discussion continued on local politics. This particular 20 something young lady actually watches all of our commission meetings on ComSouth Channel 100. She also watches all of the school board meetings on ComSouth Channel 10. She not only watched them, but she really pays attention to them. I spent the next 30 minutes answering questions about downtown, about the city’s pension fund, Tax Equity, about taxes, about the debt on our Spec Building, and about Industrial Development. She was very informed about her community and asked excellent questions.
The discussion then turned to national politics, and in particular the presidential race. She knew the candidates and their positions. She had an opinion and could rationally share it while leaving an opening that she could be wrong. Most people either don’t have an opinion or will defend their ill informed decision regardless of the facts.
I was surprised because this is really not the norm. The majority of people are really pretty uninformed and/or apathetic to local government. And to find a 20ish young lady with that much knowledge and interest was really refreshing. I wish more people would get involved. We have so many opportunities to serve in this town. From the Chamber, to the Arts Council, to Relay for Life, to Rotary, Pulaski Tomorrow, and yes, even to local politics. There are many ways to get involved. Getting involved gives you a louder voice. And when it comes to how groups, organizations or city commissions, are spending local monies or investing time in community projects, a loud voice helps.
Thanks for surprising me. I love being surprised!
A class-action lawsuit filed recently by the Georgia Motor Trucking Association and several trucking companies challenges House Bill 170, Georgia’s recent transportation funding legislation. The truckers contend sales taxes imposed by local governments (a.k.a., the City of Hawkinsville and every other city) on motor fuel can only be expended for “providing and maintaining an adequate system of public roads and bridges” and “road and construction maintenance.” The lawsuit cites a provision of the Georgia Constitution that limits the expenditure of state sales taxes on motor fuels to those purposes.
The suit seeks to have local sales taxes collected on motor fuel sales placed in an escrow account pending resolution of the lawsuit, jeopardizing over $500 million in local sales taxes used to fund essential city, county and school needs. Cities in Georgia have a lobbying group, The Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) and GMA believes the proposed diversion of local sales tax receipts is unlikely. However, Hawkinsville and other Cities should be aware of the possibility that the proceeds of taxes on the sale of motor fuels could be withheld. This would be very harmful to our city.
GMA disagrees with the claims in the lawsuit because it ignores the fact that local sales tax revenues:
- are not imposed by the State;
- are not eligible for appropriation by the State;
- are specifically authorized by the Georgia Constitution for the provision of local government services or for educational purposes;
- are dedicated by Georgia statutes for specific local purposes other than transportation; and
- in some instances may be contractually dedicated to fund local projects.
Tom Gehl, GMA’s Director of Governmental Relations, notes that the truckers made a similar argument during the debate on HB 170 during the 2015 legislative session, which lawmakers rejected. It is my hope that the courts will throw out this lawsuit because it has no standing. LOCAL vs. STATE.