Time to reinforce election’s message

Published 11:30 pm Friday, October 3, 2008

Among the many messages of the May election in Franklin was a strong citizen desire for smaller municipal government and, by extension, the taxes that fund it.

We’ll find out this month whether the City Council heeds the voters’ wishes.

Citizens were told in July that an adopted fiscal 2009 budget of increased spending and higher taxes was essentially meaningless — that the final setting of the property tax rate later in the year would allow the council to “fix” the budget.

That time has come.

Citizens who believed they were getting a more fiscally responsible city government by electing two new council members — and sending a strong message to the incumbent mayor — should strongly consider showing up at City Hall at 7 p.m. Monday.

Council members, to their credit, want some feedback from citizens before the Oct. 27 adoption of a tax rate.

If beleaguered taxpayers fail to make their voices heard Monday night, they’re likely to get something they never envisioned when casting their ballots in May: a 10.39 percent increase in property taxes over last year. An individual property owner’s bill could be more or less, depending on their property’s reassessed value, but the city’s proposed rate of 85 cents per $1,000 of assessed value would result in an overall 10.39 percent increase in property taxes collected by the city.

City officials say the proposed rate is far from a “done deal” and that they advertised it “on the high side.”

A tax rate of 77 cents — in combination with a 16.78 percent increase in assessed values — would bring the same amount of property taxes that the city collected last year.

Given the state of the economy, with families struggling to make their mortgage payments and city unemployment soaring to more than 8 percent, the City Council should bend over backward to hold the line on taxes. A 10 percent increase in property taxes would inflict unnecessary pain on families who can’t bear anymore.

Those voices need to be heard Monday night.