Over the past year I have taken a step back from protesting Mayor Pittman and her voting block for the sake of promoting good news about the City of East Point. Unfortunately, the Mayor has taken actions against home owners and as a REALTOR I have sworn an oath to help protect home owners in my community. Due to this oath, I feel it it urgent that I share the following information with my readers and ask that YOU (yes, you) TAKE ACTION NOW!!!!
Here is the latest update from Council Member Lance Rhodes. CM Rhodes has spent the past 8 years leading the effort for positive change and fiscal responsibility. As you can tell by the message below, Mayor Pittman and her voting block are working to undo 8 years of fiscal responsibility in under 8 weeks!
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While it is difficult to determine which action of Council over the past few weeks has been the most harmful, this attempt to remove the millage rate from the City Charter certainly ranks among the highest.
Our present council has violated the City Charter in every meeting including conflicts of interest, illegal veto’s upheld by the Mayor’s voting block, dismantling our financial stability (to which the city received an award this past week for the excellent work and presentation of a city budget) passing city ordinance (laws) without due process and now an attempt to remove the first line of defense for citizens in fighting an elected body from unnecessarily raising property taxes.
While many may wonder what has caused this aggressive action from the Mayor, there are three basic reasons that you may find of interest;
1. Mayor Pittman has publicly stated she has the support of her voting block to raise the millage rate from 13.75 mills to 30 mills. It appears the general public is expressing their concerns to this voting block for such an action. In an attempt to have citizens believe this voting block is protecting their interest, they have now presented the idea to completely remove the limit on the property tax. It is their hope citizens will be so relieved that they have reconsidered their support of the Mayor in removing the limit that a 30 mill increase will not seem as aggressive when compared to removing the limit. I for one, will not be deceived. Any change in the Charter is simply not acceptable.
2. Mayor Pittman and her voting block have received a great deal of opposition to their proposal to violate State Law and attempt to pass a tax on non-profit organizations to include churches and other religious institutions. Within the same statement, Mayor Pittman and her block of votes on council have stated their intent to remove the senior citizen property tax freeze. This attempt to change the charter is an act to draw attention from the attack against our senior citizens and religious institutions.
3. Our past City Manager, our present interim City Manager, all of our city financial leaders and every contract professional adviser have agreed the budget as previously passed (to which we received the award) was the only safe course of action to strengthen our financial future. Mayor Pittman and her voting block ignored all of the professional advise and have worked to weaken our budget. This attempt to remove the millage rate limit is a safe guard for their lack of responsible actions regarding our budget. It is likely, barring any miracle in several business locating to East Point, that you and I will pay more as a result of their reckless actions than we would have under the previous budget.
There are so many negative issues with the attempt to remove any restriction and or to raise the limit on the property tax, that it would require several pages to address. However, I have listed six concerns below.
A change in the City Charter requires a much greater action with additional steps to inform the pubic than simply raising the property tax. If their is no limit, the Council can move more quickly and with less public involvement to change the property tax at any given time. This limit on the property tax is a “first line of defense” for the citizens in East Point. Removing this provision will weaken the authority citizens have to hold our elected officials accountable for their budgets. The use of an invisible tax (no property tax limit), is a method used by those in elected office to prepare for re-election. It allows for the increase in taxes with far less public involvement. Given the next election is an at-large election and we are sure to have financial issues with this attack on our financial structure, it is important for present Mayor and Council Members to remove as much discussion about how to correct their irresponsible decisions with our budget as possible. In addition to our sitting Council, this invisible tax would benefit anyone else who will seek election that opposed our previous budget. It will be important for them to have as little negative impact on the failure of our budget as possible. This is why some Council Members who will not be up for re-election to support the installation of this invisible tax by removing the property tax limit. The removal of the property tax limit and or the increase of the property tax allows for a lack of checks and balance for the elected body. This gives far to much control to the Mayor and Council with less protection to the citizen. This action is not the first attempt to remove checks and balances for the Council. In this past meeting, Mayor Pittmans recommendation to require a majority vote of Council in order for any “one” Council Member is receive a legal opinion for the City Attorney also removed checks and balances for the elected body. Mayor Pittman and her voting block will only vote for legal opinions that will support their political agenda. Every illegal action that has violated our City Charter and every ethics violation from the Mayor has been supported by the city legal department. With this latest action from Mayor Pittman and her voting block, the minority Council Members have little opportunity to reveal actions by the majority voting block that are unethical and illegal. The trend with the Mayor and her voting block is to limit the opportunity for citizens to be informed of their actions.
The removal of the property tax limit and or the increase is an act of poor fiscal responsibility. This is similar to having a credit card without a limit, no means to paying the bill and no time limit to pay the bill. Home ownership will be negatively impacted. This is not a time to discourage people from buying homes. Without a limit on the property tax, homeowners will have little opportunity to participate in controlling their cost as it pertains to property tax increases. This will not only have a negative effect on homeowners, but business will also consider better options for relocating to a community that has restraint for increasing property tax. Additionally, the uncertainty of an increase in property tax will be greater with less public involvement. Those who rent will also see an increase in their rent as property owners will pass this cost on to the tenant. There is some leverage for the tenant, however, this will only be a temporary leverage as eventually the rent will increase.
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TELL THE MAYOR & CITY COUNCIL WHAT YOU THINK! The next East Point City Council Meeting is scheduled for next Monday, February 20, 2011 at 6:30pm. Everyone is welcome to address Mayor Pittman and City Council during Public Comment. Each speaker is allotted up to 3 minutes, one additional person may donate their 3 minutes to you for a total of up to 6 minutes per speaker. CM Rhodes has issued the top 10 things YOU (yes, you again) can do to stop Mayor Pittman and her voting block from more than doubling your property taxes AND raising utility rates (which was a topic the Mayor’s voting block campaigned for LOWERING). Since this is a lot of information, your 10 action steps will be presented tomorrow, right here on YourGuyForThat.com.
Thank you in advance for showing your support to defend home ownership in East Point. Your Guy for That, Dustin Drabot will continue to bring you information on this attack against home owners by Mayor Pittman, CM Cook, CM Reed, CM Gothard & CM Martin. I will see you at the City Council Meeting next Monday, February 20th, the more speakers we can gather the better. For additional information please feel free to call me at 404-507-2267.