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An Open Letter to Angela Hunt

September 15, 2010

As reported in the Dallas Morning News my City Council member, Angela Hunt, cast the deciding vote in a divided 8 to 7 City Council in favor of proposing a 6.5% property tax increase in the midst of a recession.  You can let Councilmember Hunt know what you think of the wisdom of raising taxes during a recession on her City Council web page by clicking the “Email” link in the upper right-hand corner box.  I note that Councilmember Hunt’s current post describes her recent trip to Italy and other EU countries to evaluate their “best practices.”  Italy is of course one of the EU PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain) whose addiction to unsustainable spending is threatening the survival of the EU monetary union.  Let us hope she doesn’t implement those practices here.

Here is the message that I sent to Ms Hunt:

Councilmember Hunt,

I was distressed to learn that at Monday’s City Council meeting you joined with seven other councilmen in voting in favor of a 6.5% increase in your constituents’ property taxes in the depths of what is turning into the longest recession since the 1930s.  Your vote was the deciding vote to give the measure an 8 to 7 majority.

I understand that the reduction in City tax revenue in this recession makes providing city services more difficult and that increasing revenue alleviates this pain.  What you fail to appreciate fully is that your constituents are also facing tough times.  Many of us have lost jobs, seen work hours reduced, or seen a drop-off in patronage at our small businesses.  While every one of us affected by this recession is working hard to increase our own revenues, we do not have the power to do so by fiat.  Instead we have to prioritize our spending by taking a hard look at our family budgets and cutting back on our less important spending categories.

As voters we expect nothing less from our elected leaders at all levels of government.  Critical city services must, of course continue to be funded at some level.  But I find it impossible to believe that the City of Dallas can find no further spending to cut.

I also wish to emphasize to you that any tax increases that you impose on your constituents will come at the expense of spending or saving in our own family budgets.  Every dollar extracted from us comes at the expense of spending on local restaurants, shops, entertainment venues, contributions to local charities, or investments in our local or national economies.  Businesses here and around the country need our patronage and investment to create jobs and economic growth.  Tax increases have consequences.

Among the consequences of tax increases is how we vote when deciding who will represent us as leaders.  When the final vote on this proposed tax increase and the city budget  occurs on September 22nd we expect you to show leadership and the ability to prioritize.  Your vote will have consequences for how I vote at your next election.

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