No Thank You to a Tax Increase.Yes to First Responders’ Safety Equipment
The Gallatin mayor and council like to make big plans with taxpayers’ money, but at the same time they overlook basic public safety needs. It’s a little bit like buying a fancy new car when the kids don’t have clothes. Here’s what the mayor and council are doing.
Property taxes went up last year. Even though the elected city leadership adopted the "revenue neutral rate," and claim that they didn't raise taxes, my city property tax went up. That’s just a fact. With the 2020 reassessment, I am paying more city property tax. And, I’m paying a lot more county tax, in part because of decisions made by the Gallatin mayor and council.
When the city annexes property into the city, it incurs additional costs for service. More police. More firefighters. More city services of all kinds and there currently are four annexation requests up for approval, adding another 2,633 residences--an estimated 5,300 more people, more cars and more traffic.
Two of these annexations can be serviced by existing fire halls. Two will not, and those two are Bledsoe Springs to the east of town, and the Twin Eagles expansion out along Douglas Lane. Bledsoe Springs requires a new fire station on the east end of town. Twin Eagles expansion requires a new fire station in the north of town to service this annexation properly.
This will result in a tax increase for all of us citizens. The Mayor said that staffing another fire station only three years after funding the last one, is a lot for our city, and is "really laying some groundwork for a need for an increase in revenue, and you know what that means."
Yes mayor, we do. More taxes.
We don't have the money to take care of what we already have. Some of our firemen don't even have up-to-date “turn out” safety gear. It’s worse than just inadequate gear. Did you know that over the holidays, because of sickness, one of our fire stations was temporarily closed because we don't have enough personnel to cover when people are sick. We need to get the basics under control before we annex any more land. We need to retain our firefighters by paying them correctly and providing them proper gear. That should be our priority. Annexing more land should not.
Gallatin is currently struggling and stretched thin to provide for essential city services. The city just borrowed $11 million, to pave roads, replace the golf course irrigation system, and pay for other essentials. Since we can't afford what we've got, why do we keep taking on more obligations, annexing more land that will require more services? If we are already struggling to absorb this, how will we pay for more without a tax increase?
I don't want to pay more taxes so Twin Eagles Developer Randy Jones can add more land into the city. He can develop that land in the county.
Councilman Jimmy Overton keeps saying that Jones has a right to develop his land. If he does, let him do it in the county. He does not have a right to be annexed into the city. We can't afford it right now. We can't afford to build and staff another fire hall right now. Mr. Overton, I wish you would start doing the right thing for Gallatin, for us - the people who live in Gallatin, and not just the right thing for the developers who want to make money off the backs of us, the people who live in Gallatin.
We can't afford to continue growing like this without a tax increase. Unless, of course, we ignore our Fire Department. Mayor Brown doesn't want to admit that her growth plan for Gallatin is causing problems with our essential services. That we are stretched too thin. This is city council's fault as well, not just hers. Smart growth is about knowing how to control the growth so that essential services don't get stretched thin, and the burden for the growth doesn't fall on citizens, with tax increases. If we keep growing at this rate, our services will decrease, or our taxes will increase, or both.
This is about PRIORITIES. We can focus on taking care of what we've got, what's already in the city, or we can keep expanding the city borders, driving in a dilapidated fire truck on the road to more taxes.