Jerry Marrow writes, in a letter to the Oak Ridger today, that "there is danger on the horizon with the election of this Charter Commission."
That is true — though it may be the only thing he wrote that is true. Let’s take the rest of the errors one by one:
Like most small towns, our city has been run for the benefit of a few. The rest of us pay the highest taxes in the state and get the least amount for it. We’re number one.
Um, no. We all pay the same tax rate. Even businesses that receive tax abatements, like Bristol Place apartments, are still paying the same tax rate as everyone else… the abatement just defers taxation on the full value of their improvements for a few years. So, they’re still paying a lot more in property taxes than they did before the development. And they’ll pay even more after the abatement period.
We’re all taxed equally; businesses pay taxes on 40% of their assessed value, and homeowners pay taxes on 25% of their assessed value. It’s all the same tax rate.
Secondly, our tax rate is not the highest in the state — see for yourself. With a combined City/County tax rate of $5.45 (that’s the Anderson Co. part; the Roane Co. part is lower), compare that to Memphis ($7.29), Germantown and Bartlett ($5.63), Knoxville ($5.50), and others. Yes, our tax rate is higher than most. However, we get more than most — would you compare our schools, our police department, our refuse removal, to any of those places?
We get a lot of bang for the buck in Oak Ridge.
The term for a council member would be two years. These people are like gym socks, you can’t change them often enough.
I challenge you to ask anyone who has served in local elected office — current or former — if their first two years of service were the most effective. I’m confident that every one would concede that there’s a learning curve, and that they became more effective once they came up to speed. So rather than gym socks, let’s use a little different analogy: would you change dentists every two years, because it’s better to have one fresh out of dental school than one with more experience?
We should have district representation with the council member living in that district. I do not trust and neither should you trust somebody to take care of your district that doesn’t live there. As I’ve documented before, my area and your area is being cheated out of city monies.
Oak Ridge is small enough that people living in the various geographic areas (voting precincts?) have much more in common than differences. The population of ONE Nashville City Council district is more than half the size of all of Oak Ridge — and they have 40 people on City Council, not counting the Mayor!
The last part of his blurb is one that you should think about very carefully: in the previous paragraph, he complains about the tax rate. Next, he wants more spent on his district. Is it not natural to conclude that, if Council members were elected by district, each would want more spent in his or her district than in others — regardless of need or overall benefit to the City as a whole? Think earmarks and pork-barrel spending.
Lastly, the allegation of some areas being "cheated out of city monies" is very serious, but no specifics are offered. It’s instructive to note that the district (precinct) that has received the most in city expenditures during the term of this Council — Highland View — does not have a Council member residing in that district.
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I could go on, refuting his errors line-by-line until the end, but the picture should be clear enough by now. Early voting begins a week from tomorrow; visit www.OakRidgeCharter.com and get information on the issue and candidates.
You can vote for seven… it might be wise to make your list.