The Daily Hustle: 9/10/10

Sheryl Cole knows what's up

Sheryl Cole
Sheryl Cole (Photo by John Anderson)

The only council member the Hustle spoke to that discussed the possibility of going over Marc Ott's proposed tax rate was Sheryl Cole. As the chair of council's Audit and Finance committee, she's asked the tough questions this fiscal year - and she still has some concerns.

As we noted this week, Cole cited the city's major initiatives and said "It doesn't make any sense to authorize these plans, get the information, and then let them sit on the shelf and be hesitant to fund them, unless we are clearly in a financial recession. And I can certainly appreciate the argument that we are. ... But I'm just not comfortable we've done enough outreach to know whether the citizens do not want a small tax increase to guarantee some of the things that we have proposed. … We went to the rollback rate the last two years when we had a bigger deficit … The truth is I just don't know, but I don't think we asked the question.”

However, Cole sounded sure that there was no enthusiasm on the dais for going higher. “I'm the chair of the Audit and Fiance committee, so I usually do try to touch everybody’s pulse, and I think there’s definitely a sentiment not to go above the proposed city manager’s rate.”

She points to a larger problem the city faces every tax season: “The homeowner does not know, when we set our rate, when the school district sets their rate, and the county sets their rate, and ACC sets their rate, what their total tax bill would be” – an uncertainty that lets anti-taxers capitalize on fears. “In a year like this expressly, where the national news is so bad, but not necessarily the local news, we get scared. The problem is, for me, trying to think about the long term effect on the city, is when you don't go to the full amount, you stay sorta forever behind. It’s not just the money you lose this year; it’s compounded.”

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