No New Macon County Taxes
According to Townhall.com, "Every study shows that the middle class is financially squeezed right now," wrote Stephen Moore on 1Jul2015. Reinforcing what I have been saying through this entire ordeal, the citizens of Macon County would have turned back this 2015 "fuel" tax just as 80% of Michigan voters did this year to pay for roads and Baldwin County and Auburn residents did with new and increased education taxes in 2014. Our 5 commissioners KNEW their wants would be rejected by the people and acted with determination. THEREFORE the decision of taking the vote from the people under the guise of needing money now and not having time to wait for an election or being unable to pay for a special county election the commission and our legislative delegation sacrificed the voices belonging to each of us.
And be aware, the fuel tax was only one of three taxes the commission wanted and presented to Senator Beasley and Representative Warren to run through the legislature. The taxation to feed our county government could have been a lot worse if our commissioners had their way - think of that!
In a boiled down summary, there was only 4 votes cast in favor of the three wanted taxes in Macon County, occupation tax, rental tax, and fuel tax - all Yea's by our commissioners and each signed by the chairman.
Beasley and Warren shot down the occupation and rental taxes and lowered the dreamy 5-cent fuel tax to 2-cent and silenced the voters.
In the senate, lead by Senator Beasley, his SB486 for the new "fuel" tax filed 19May2015 received 18 Yeas, 0 Nays, and 2 Abstains (recorded vote 1174) in the senate and during house roll vote 1261 his bill received 39 Yeas, 0 Nays, and 50 Abstains. Governor Bentley approved the measure as Act 2015-449.
Representative Pebblin Warren's 2,000 word HB672 (on page 3 an added comment by me showing the only difference between SB486 and HB672) also filed Tuesday, 19May2015, received 33 Yeas and 26 Yeas in the senate and signed into law as Act 2015-414 on June 9, 2015 by Governor Bentley. Two thousand words to collect 2-cents per gallon of "fuel"? Lots between the lines, which is an understatement supported by the following paragraph.
Note: What is concerning is that SB486 and HB672 both passed the legislature and was signed by Governor Bentley under different Acts. Both bills are identical, including a typo "motor fuel ." in the first sentence of Section 2 (9) "User" except for Section 3. (a), page 3 lines 21 to 23, for "or any form of fuel such as propane gas that is sold for lighting, heating, or industrial use " omitted in in HB672. This certainly could not have been an oversight and must be known by all commissioners.
More people, many whom will most likely never buy gasoline or diesel in Macon County, have voted Yea for the commission's want, supported by Beasley and Warren, than the people who will be forced to pay the tax on every fill-up and on kerosene or other similar fuels in Macon County.
An interesting question comes to mind. Either bill was listed on the Alabama Legislature website as having a companion bill and both of them had the same purpose (or did they?) and sailed through both chambers and signed into law with unique Act numbers. Why?
Disgusting. Where is Initiative and Referendum to repeal it?
Several business owners, tired of the high taxes - and for what in return is often there response, have expressed their disappointment with our county commission over their thirst for taxes. The Notasulga Town Council during its April 2015 meeting passed a resolution not only opposing the county's desire for their 2-cent "fuel" tax but opposing taxation providing no benefit to the municipality. Obviously our legislative delegation choose to ignore the plea for fairness from the council.
A little history of the would-be grab of our money
Through the use of yet another "continuation county government meeting," where no advertisement of the meeting is made, often planned within days so citizens are unable to plan for the meeting, and held late mornings on a normal work day, March 19, 2015, with only a local newspaper reporter in the audience.
The expected revenue for the three taxes per year is between $950,000 and $1,050,000, reports The Tuskegee News, yet Chairman Maxwell is quoted as saying "These taxes will have little effect on the citizens." I ask based on what economical principle? Get real, taking upwards to an additional $1,000,000 from the local economy per year will have no affect on the citizens?
Upon returning from an Independent Voting Conference in NYC and reading of the proposed taxes in The Tuskegee News I immediately emailed Beasley and Warren and copied commissioners I was able to do.
Transparency you ask, not with this commission!
None of the three resolutions have been publicly discussed during previous meetings yet within 35 minutes the five commissioners came together, with only a news reporter in the audience, to have three landmark taxes introduced, discussed, and voted upon, all within 35 minutes! That in of itself is fast work - at the best, or questionable at the least.
Republican lead Lee County Commission was considering a 5-cent hike in their gas tax during the same period. However, they understood 2015 "was not a good time for the proposal [to permit the voters vote on the issue] because of a statewide effort to look at additional funding for infrastructure," as reported by Kailey Miller, The Auburn Plainsman Feb 26, 2015.
After citizen push back, an editorial, and a newspaper article by Harold Powell of Shorter, and my first and second Tuskegee News column Senator Billy Beasley called a meeting of county commissioners and Representative Warren in his office. All attended, less Commissioner Huffman, including Economic Development Board representation. Additionally, reacting to the citizen push back, the chairman called a series of meetings, one in each district, hear "firsthand information" which was left at the front door of district 4 rec center that evening of April 8, 2015.
The entire hour long District 4 video recording can be seen here on the Tuskegee Virtual Youtube channel. The chairman lied of the occupational and rental taxes being only a point of "discussion," see 22:19 of the recording, when all three tax resolutions were equally signed by him and presented to the legislative delegation.
Specifically between 47:34 to 50:46 in the video, I asked "Chairman you are asking sacrifices from people in this room and citizens of this county. What sacrifices is the county commission going to make?" Chairman's response, "I am making a sacrifice," which was verbally supported by commissioner Berry. Commissioner Huffman, also in attendance, did not address any of the points discussed. Maxwell did say that with more money he would travel more such as to Washington, DC and to HIS national association as our school board is so uncaring on their boondoggles.
If you think for a second you will only be paying 2-cents on every gallon of "gasoline" or "motor fuel" you best read the entire Act. Pay attention to the definition of gasoline, "Gasoline, naphtha, and other liquid motor fuels or any device or substitute therefor which is commonly used in internal combustion engines," and motor fuel is "Diesel oil, tractor fuel, gas oil, distillate or liquefied gas, kerosene, jet fuel, or any substitutes or devices therefor when sold, distributed, stored, or withdrawn from storage in the county for use in the operation of any motor vehicle on the highways of this state," emphasis provided. Does it concern you why 2,000 words are necessary to collect 2-cents on a gallon of fuel? A lot of words, commas, and reading between the lines for opportunities to fill the county coffers (tanks) with more our money.
Can you imagine the financial stress upon all Macon County citizens, certainly the 27% living in poverty, had the rental tax, 5-cent "fuel", and the new and improved occupational taxes were approved in a similar fashion as the "fuel" tax, that is without a single vote from the public?
I emailed Senator Beasley and Representative Warren on two occasions (one and two), spoke with Warren on the phone and in the state house a couple of times, stressing the supposedly sudden need for more tax dollars and the lack of time to incorporate a referendum was a false narrative. The low hanging money at the new Love's truck stop in Shorter overshadowed the commission's lack of planning. Commissioner Thompson who sold the property for the extended service truck and automobile fueling and McDonalds and Subway restaurants had been working on this project for years! Surely, he shared his newly found fortune and the development of the site with the commission years ago. So the commission was asleep and we will be having money taken for us because of their sloppiness. And we are paying these persons? Maybe that is why they feel the entitlement to travel to Orange Beach every August for THEIR association meeting that represents them not you and me.
The commission should have spent more open debate discussing the negativity of the "fuel" tax during that hasty 35 minute meeting attended by only one person! Why would the commission not be content just collecting the already established sales tax for the food, supplies, automotive products and other ancillary purchases at the Love's station. They proved they can do as they want to do, silencing the people's voice.
President Reagan drills down into the problem with “The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much.”
The county has 27% of our citizens living in poverty, the county has lost 20% of its population high in 1980 and is projected to lose more citizens than the 66 other counties through 2040 as written by Al.com. So we tax those who can not afford the additional financial burden and are unable to leave and those who can afford to pay and decide to stay. The middle class will eventually disappear and the all inclusive tax burden will rest squarely with the latter segment of our county.
Maxwell's desired travel and this attempt by the entire commission to test science of that proverbial turnip deserves that he and Commissioners Robinson and Huffman have formidable candidates and a close look of how they are representing their constituents going into November 2016's election.