Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Meeting Notes

It was interesting to appear at the Hamilton County Council Meeting tonight to speak in opposition to the County's proposed wheel tax. Noblesville Ledger story.

The first thing that struck me was that there were five residents who appeared and spoke. All five spoke in opposition to the new tax. Four elected officials spoke. Three were in favor. Kudos to Commissioner Steve Holt, who spoke in opposition, urging the Council to let this pass for one year to see if the County and State resolve their differences on COIT money that the County claims is owed to it by the State.

Interestingly, the three officials who spoke in favor represent municipalities and serve on city or town councils. This new tax would generate money that is split between the county and the municipalities. In other words, it is a tax that the County Councilor would be responsible for enacting, but the city and town councilors who would not be on record as having voted for a new tax would still see the benefit of that tax in their municipalities. Keep in mind that all of these officials are Republicans.

Now, you might think that the County Councilors would object to this move by the cities, taking all of the money and none of the responsibility. Who would you complain to? The GOP County Chair? Oh, that's right. The Chair is Charlie White, and he spoke in support of the tax on behalf of the Town of Fishers, where he is a Town Councilor. The other Republican councilors who spoke in favor of the new tax: Terry Busby of Noblesville, and Kevin Kirby.

It was interesting to hear the County Councilors speak of cutting budgets. If you closed your eyes and forgot you were in Hamilton County, you would have thought that Democrats were speaking. One councilor commented: "What would you have us cut? Police or other safety forces?" It seems that whenever you suggest any kind of budget cut to a Republican or Democrat, the inevitable response is this. No, don't cut police or other safety. Look at everything else first. If departments get new vehicles every 5 years, make it 7. If new computers are bought every 3 years, make it 4.

There was a dare to inspect the budget and find the fat to cut. That's a challenge I'm willing to accept. I'm betting there is plenty to cut. That the Republicans can't- or, more likely, won't- find anything to cut, it just serves as further proof that they aren't the fiscal conservatives they campaign they are.

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