McLemore, despite delinquency, should have say on taxes

Published 8:14 am Friday, August 6, 2010

According to the anti-McLemore forces within the City of Franklin political leadership, Ward 3 City Councilman Greg McLemore should not be allowed to hear any of their discussions, represent his ward by voting on any motions dealing with, or be in their presence when they discuss property taxes.

They say that because he is in arrears, he has a conflict of interest. If they were to tell the truth, they would say that he has a conflict of interest with them and not the law.

They are interested in taxing the citizens, and he is not. So basically, if he wanted to raise taxes they would let him, but since he wants to lower taxes, they declare he has a conflict of interest.

According to the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, raising or lowering property taxes is a matter managed by the City Council.

It is true that Councilman McLemore has a personal interest in the matter. He is a resident, homeowner and taxpayer, but we should remember that all of the other council members have the exact same interest.

What his political enemies are saying is that he has a special transactional interest in the late fee and interest charges that the other council members don’t have. This transactional interest disqualifies him from participating because it is a conflict of interest for him to do so.

Well, this is a trumped-up charge that cannot withstand scrutiny. What the anti-McLemore contingent left out was the part of the law that states that the late fee and interest charges are issues that affect the public generally.

When a transaction affects the public generally, the council member may participate.

The newspaper has reported that there are more than 500 delinquent taxpayers within the community, and this is more than enough to meet the standard set by state law.

The anti-McLemore tax-them-to-the-hilt contingent says that it is all right for a council member to vote to raise taxes, even though it affects him or her because it affects the public generally.

That McLemore can’t vote because the late fee and interest charge only affects him.

But in this case, we must remember that what they are saying isn’t true.

What is affecting McLemore is affecting the general public, and that the law does not require every member of the public must be affected.

The example being that real estate tax penalty fee and interest applies only to property owners, but it is still considered to affect the general public.

McLemore should fight on for his ward and for lower taxes. He should contact the attorney general and obtain a determination clarifying this situation.