‘The conservative way to go,’ indeed

Interesting development at Thursday night’s Waynesboro City Council work session – where Mayor Tim Williams broke ranks with the libertarians-disguised-as-conservatives on the Council on the tax rate.
“That’s the conservative way to go,” Williams said, expressing support for maintaining a 70-cent property-tax rate for the 2009-2010 budget year, citing the bigger picture that has the city government already cutting its organization to the bone and risking taking steps back if further cuts would have to be made to accommodate Vice Mayor Frank Lucente’s stated desire to cut the rate to 67 cents, saving the average taxpayer about $5 a month on their property taxes.

Williams’ approach is the “conservative way to go,” in the face of the perversion of the word “conservative” seen not just here in Waynesboro by the likes of Lucente, but really everywhere, following in the tradition of the great government-denier Grover Norquist, the Godfather of No, No, No!, No!!

The ultralibertarian approach advocated by the Norquists and Lucentes of the world would starve government while claiming that doing so helps the little guy by keeping what they pay out of pocket for the provision of government services down as much as possible. We know, of course, that this is just a smokescreen, at the federal level for the reduction in any oversight of financial markets and the enforcement of labor laws and environmental regulations that big business looks at as an impediment to the maximization of their profit lines, and at the local level a more focused and direct tax relief for the wealthy.

Think about it. Let’s say you own a $200,000 home in Waynesboro. Lucente gets his way and gets his three-cent tax cut. We’ve had to slash the school budget $600,000 or lay off quite a few more city employees in public works or the police department or somewhere else to get there, one, and two, you get $60 for your troubles.

But let’s say you own a $500,000 home, and on top of that a few million dollars worth of commercial and residential properties. Let’s peg it at $5 million overall to do some quick math. Three cents saves you $1,500. Which is more than a Big Mac and fries every month, to be sure.

“Conservative” isn’t saving a big-money guy like Norquist or Lucente money off his tax bill. “Conservative” is valuing every dollar spent by whatever the organization in question might be, business or nonprofit or government, and part and parcel to this valuing process is recognizing that the protection of past and current investments into the organization’s viability is of utmost concern.

Tim Williams would get that, because Tim Williams is a fiscal conservative like you and me, who works hard every day to support his family and doesn’t do with a lot of the frills, and knows that good schools and good government aren’t frills, and that they’re certainly not the enemy.

 

– Story by Chris Graham

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