Thursday, March 19, 2009

Backlash : New Castle County

I fear we are powerless (i.e. screwed) against the single-minded piggish tax tax tax tax tax (and mayyyybe, just maybe, cut government waste and lard) religion of the one party in charge across Delaware.

But the dominoes falling in the endless chain of Democrat taxes on anything and everything may end up with the last falling at the bottom of their political house of cards.

It may not be right away, but there will be a reckoning for these reckless re-distributors.

They are really setting up a very stark "us and them" dynamic, with "us" being most lower and middle class voters hurt by the Democrat governments' novel notions about "shared sacrifice".

Yeah. We sacrifice. They share the proceeds among themselves.

NCCo taxpayers angry at 25% hike
Cash-strapped homeowners want county to find other ways of covering budget deficit
By ANGIE BASIOUNY - The News Journal

When New Castle County Executive Chris Coons unveiled a recommended budget this week that contained a 25 percent property tax increase, nobody in the packed audience blinked.

But on Wednesday -- a day after his budget presentation -- the news began to sink in with many residents who are alarmed at the amount of the hike, angry with Coons for proposing it and demanding the government find another way to fix its money problems.

"At my house, if we're strapped, we don't go out and charge a steak dinner," said Kevin Brown, a 49-year-old electrician from Newark. "We'll eat hot dogs and beans. It seems like the county has this appetite. Like they're still hungry and the tummy is not full."

Peg Cannister, a 61-year-old New Castle resident who works two jobs to make ends meet, said she has just one question for Coons.

"Where does he think the homeowners are going to get the extra money?" she said. "It seems everything is going up except our paychecks. Let some of these politicians live on our paychecks for a month."

If County Council approves the 25 percent hike, it would generate an extra $21 million and raise the average annual property tax bill by about $100, to $501.

Coons' recommended budget doesn't rely on taxes alone. His plan also calls for broad spending cuts, including slashing $4.8 million in personnel costs through furloughs or layoffs. The unions initially rejected Coons' plan to furlough workers and freeze their pay, but both sides are continuing to negotiate to avoid layoffs.

Many residents expressed little sympathy for the employees Wednesday, saying the county needs to give them the boot for serious savings to occur. Personnel costs account for three-fourths of the county's spending.

"I don't want to see anybody lose their jobs, but nobody put together a parade when my group lost their jobs," said John Finnegan, who was laid off a year ago from his computer support job at IBM. "I would have done furloughs if given the option."

Finnegan said he worries about keeping his Bear home while he looks for work, and resents the added financial stress of a tax increase. He thinks the county should offset costs by implementing user fees for parks and libraries, and officials should work harder to eliminate waste and inefficiencies.

"Who do I go to when I need to pay my gas and electric?" Finnegan said. "Where was anybody this winter when I had to keep my house at 58 degrees. In this economy, you just can't keep taxing people."

"Our math is iron," Coons said. "Unless and until we get new sources of revenue authorized from the state and until we achieve savings in personnel, my tools are cutting from personnel or increasing people's property taxes. The alternative is to shut down public libraries and parks. I did not hear that from the public."

Curtis Simpson, a retired teacher who lives in the Colonial Heights neighborhood between Wilmington and Elsmere, said he's most disturbed by the revelation that the proposed tax hike won't solve the deficit, which is projected to grow to $200 million over the next five years. He said he's still reeling from a 5 percent tax increase in 2006 and a 17.5 percent increase in 2007.

"I think it's horrible," Simpson said. "He just increased our taxes last term and now he's talking about another. Those of us on a fixed income, we can't just keep affording this."


Anonymous said...

"...I did not hear that from the public."

I can't remember where (probably on Delaware Liberal), but I pointed out this will be the money quote for everything. Here, it's already started, admittedly sooner than even I expected.

While all these "listening" and "town hall" meetings were a good thing in terms of info sharing, I have always been skeptical of what I saw them as: an opportunity to deflect blame to constituents for tax increases.

I honestly don't mind politicians effectively polling the public, because it's one way to stay in touch with the people they represent, but in a situation like this, to more or less say it's because the people told me so, that's cowardly crap.

Anonymous said...

Coons meets regulary with civic umbrella orgs that all represented their public with request to stabilize NCC finances with a diversity of solutions.
TAX TAX TAX was only one recommendation. Even fair reporting of the listening meetings not edging the Chateau country were that the public wanted a true shared sacrifice.
Why not increase fees on parks or amenities for one thing?

The money that is flowing out of the county is LARGELY going to benefit development. The money Chris has burned through is largely spent on furthering development. Ask the WNJ where there reporting has been on that.