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No New Macon County Taxes or GIVE AWAYS of our Tax Money

Macon County Tax Money "GIVE-AWAY"

and

Macon County Sheriff Andre Brunson pay increase

Note: Interested in seeing how much a county or municipality is receiving from the state as a result of the collected on-line taxes beginning 1Nov2016? Visit https://myalabamataxes.alabama.gov/_/, click on "other" button, click "One Spot," select locality, and "from and "to" dates. 50% to the state, 25% goes to cities and 25% to counties, prorated on population.

Macon County shaking every penny from tax payerUPDATE and Summary
of the Great Give-Away

First of all, Macon County too often can not pay its bills yet our elected public servants never fail to justify padding of their pockets with OUR limited financial resources. We are broke (Moody's rating with the third lowest rating possible, "WR," Rating Withdrawn) because of self-serving leadership. Any bond activity will require a higher percentage with this rating. The commission practices poor governance by ignoring the intent of laws to open government to its people.

Too many with elected power and access to taxpayer money wear distorted lenses to justify themselves more of each.

Reinforced by polyphagia for more power and money, some will go to any extent to achieve it by plotting behind closed doors; case in point the taking of $38,400 for salaries from our General Fund and not a written or spoken word on Macon County soil by any of the 8 recipients and denying our vote.

The citizens of Macon County - consider yourselves victims of a well planned and executed theft of our tax dollars.

The county being "broke" is declared at most county commission meetings by the chairman, no truer words, see the 2013-2014 county audit, paying particular attention to pages 61-65. The General Fund owes the Capital Improvement Fund $1.25 Million (page 63) and Deficit Accounts (page 64).

My parents taught me to be responsible to those I am indebted to and fulfill my obligation before any frivolous spending. Must be different when serving citizens, opps, pardon me, being served by the citizens.

Over 250 citizens, most learning of the Great Give-Away for the first time, utilized their constitutional right to petition our government to stop this madness, which as expected, was met with commission displeasure when their game was exposed. Two citizens said they could not sign the petition for fear of retaliation, permit me to repeat that, for fear of retaliation. And this is OUR government, being afraid of our representatives?

Within my public comments to the county commission on May 8, 2016, the commission remained passive, ignoring my questions to the necessity of this give-away, why mid term, where is the money, and not permitting our vote. None of the five choose to answer my questions or dispute the facts. In the commission's eyes, less informed citizens the better. (Come back to me on the Community Corrections Program where 60 to 80 prisoners will be introduced into Macon County as a half-way house while the county racks in $58K in start up incentive. Have you heard of this?)

WSFA's Morgan Young wrote a story of the "Great Give-Away" which was aired on their 10 o'clock news. Within her video and text, it is apparent Chair Louis Maxwell will say anything to stretch a fact for his raise, which will push him up to $66K/year (pre-raise salaries), pretty handsome for our county per capita income of $17K, with many working two jobs. In Maxwell's justification, he cited the need for commissioners to pull from their pockets to purchase team sport uniforms.

Where and how is the $15K recreation money/per district or $60K per year being spent and where are the proceeds of the field and rec centers' rentals going or gone?

My request for a public hearing on SB414 sponsored by Senator Billy Beasley was granted the day before the session ended; there was urgency in their quest. Read my public testimony to the House Local Legislation Committee opposing SB414 and highlighted companion bill HB596, on May 18, 2017. "Plead their Greed" videos before the Committee for their self-serving raises may be viewed in these short clips, Senator Beasley; Maxwell; Tuskegee Resident, and Thompson, Berry, and Willie Kirk. Representative Warren was not in attendance.

Because of the comments and misstated facts, I must hold the speakers accountable.

Beasley stated this Great Give-Away originated in his State House office, which I have been told public announcements are not required for state house meetings, as best as I am able to determine at this time. Anyone know this to be true or false? The cold-hard manipulative process began in OUR state house, completely removed from public scrutiny.

SB414 reads "salary...which may be treated as compensation," is contrary to Thompson's comment "this is not a pay raise."

Furthermore Thompson stated the commissioners must use their own money for fuel and are not reimbursed for it on the county chores. Official records from the Road and Bridge Department show differently. For Thompson, his statement appears true, however, not so for the others, including Maxwell while spending thousands on commercial purchases. Interesting as everyone can clearly see, 80 gallon and 56 gallon withdrawals of diesel charged to the county commission office in May and June 2015, respectively.

In reference to I suspect, Jimmy Cunningham, Berry stated "he was a commissioner" who took $400 a month while in office but "does not want us to have it." Obviously, this is not the first "Great Give-Away," and not the last! Verifying this information with Cunningham, who served about 18 months after Berry was criminally removed from office, I was told Berry, not Jimmy, had voted on the pay raise before being removed from office. In response to Berry needing to go "behind" me to find out what was going on - did he really say that? Why was it my responsibility to get him out into his district - reactive vs proactive!

And to the comment of Commissioner Robinson works hard to get farmers' produce to Walmart is true to a point, but that is part of his day job's responsibility at Tuskegee University.

Party leadership also intervened itself into this hidden and unnecessary expense. People on a state house elevator heard of this Great Give-Away.

The bill was passed out of the Local Legislation Committee without a vote of the members, most of whom were not in attendance to hear the testimonies. The speakers in opposition presented hard facts with supporting documents and questioned yet again why not at the end of the term. The proponents misspoke and begged with OUR legislative delegation tag-team in their corner, representing 8 of 19K Macon County citizens.

While the state auditors found the county had 3 additional accounts in the red, the commission repeated concerns and hard evidence of the county being "broke," deliberately hiding from the public, and not affording us a vote (with statewide primary vote in August, less than 3 months away), the citizens of Macon County have been had.

Further specifics of the Great Give-Away....

Macon County's Representative Pebblin Warren is sponsoring HB596, (highlighted copy) a bill to give more benefits or money (the bill is not specific) to a 8 elected public servants because they must be good guys deserving a political favor. The lie that the money is available per Chairman Maxwell is profound. Rep. Warren emailed me Maxwell said it was available.

The big bull, or bigger ox, Senator Billy Beasley filed a companion bill SB414 the same day as his tag-team partner, but let it sit until seeing me in OUR state house on Tuesday, 9 May 2017. Seeing me and being best buds with our commissioners, who will benefit by Beasley and Warren's generosity of throwing our tax dollars to 8 persons in the county, he fast tracked it getting the second reading on his bill on 9May and two days later approved by the senate.

The citizens who took time to collect and sign the petitions, as well as the entire county, were sucker punched and our mouths tapped shut throughout the entire process.

How much representation did those opposing this give away receive? How many in this county actually knew of this crap.

As far as the false argument blaming the state for not having "home rule," it is nothing but a diversion. Amendment 4 of the last general election specifically eliminated pay, zoning, and other issues which will STILL require legislative involvement. The political buds did the same thing with the recent fuel tax, as discussed below.

It is no wonder so many of us think so little of our elected public servants. There are a few good ones but these guys rotten everything about them with attempts like this keeping secrets from the public, whom they are suppose to represent.

How many of those reading this was approached by a commissioner explaining their need for this greed?

Here is my video and prepared statement before OUR Macon County Commission on May 8, 2017. Notice their lack of attentiveness as well as their unwillingness to explain to the citizens in the audience what is going on. This was an ideal time to "plead their greed" to the citizens, but no hiding is preferred!

Still I am not aware of anyone, including my question to Warren, getting a response to the source of the money and why the need to fatten someone's retirement.

This extra boost is labeled "expense allowance." Sorry a dollar spent like this is a dollar lost for future needs. Per the proposed bill, "Beginning on the first day of the month following the effective date of this act....[those shown in the below table] shall respectively receive an additional expense allowance of four thousand eight hundred dollars ($4,800) per annum... [and] shall be in addition to all other compensation, expense allowances, or benefits granted to each.. and may be treated as compensation for retirement contributions." Therefore, if not "treated as compensation for retirement," then how is it to be used by the commissioner?

This stinks.

Call, text, email, or all three to all three elected public servants, who want to be served as compared to serving.

 
Name cell phone office phone email
Senator Billy Beasley ? 334-242-7868
billy.beasley@alsenate.gov
Representative Pebblin Warren 334-220-6198 334-242-7734
tiger9127@bellsouth.net
Chairman Louis Maxwell 334-421-2481 334-724-2555 lmaxwell@maconalabama.com

Keep in mind OUR four commissioners are PART-TIME.

Why must this asiNine "GIVE-AWAY" be stopped

ONE: Nearly one of every two children in OUR county live in poverty, to be exact 46.1% according to http://www.naco.org/. Nearly one-third of our neighboring families live in poverty!

Two: There is not a county commission meeting where the chairman states we must watch our expenditures or ask "can we afford this?" The meeting directly before the approval of this year's budget in September 2016 resulted in the most display of anger, raising of voices, and talking over each other at the dais I have ever witnessed - over money. The fist pounding, "I don't need you to undermine me," Commission Robinson directed at Chairman Maxwell, was in response to Maxwell's attempt to remove funding for a long-overdue District 1 storm shelter for employee pay raises. Now, seven months later OUR fiscal picture is so bright according to Maxwell, OUR county can afford this "Give Away," because he and others will directly benefit. The April 2017 included no less than a half-hour discussion how to survive the remainder of this fiscal year.

Three: Roads, roads, and roads. Not a meeting goes by where roads in need of repair are discussed by the commission or brought forward by a citizen or group of citizens. Just last meeting, the engineer announced the long-promised repairs to Tysonville Loop will be limited to a very small section of the road because of funding.

Four: The county is not broke, spending is OUR problem. The county receives money from the Amazon tax, county-wide gasoline tax, business privilege (extortion) fee, ad valorem tax, beer tax, cigarette tax, wine tax, sales tax, and possibly a kick-back on your mandatory garbage payments, etc. that is not voluntarily offered by the citizen but stolen from us. Ten years we will have paid $384,000. Twenty years costing the citizens $768,000 on this "Give-Away." It will never go away because it to tagged to the position not the person.

Five: This money is not falling from the sky or picked from an pecan tree - but taken from each of us at the expense of our health and well-being of our children, roads, infrastructure, and the crippling of our county's socioeconomics. Because of their insatiable thirst for taxes, look before this gracious self-serving episode and know a couple of years ago the "ultimate" gold watch was presented to our former revenue commissioner purely as a retirement gift. This is not an isolated incident but a trend of political favors at our expense. People see little in return for the money taken from them and those who can afford to leave many are doing so every year. Furthermore, a government as Macon County, regardless of loss of population, never voluntarily decrease their spending as they should.

Six: We, the people of Macon County, deserve and want to keep our hard-earned money, so I propose rather than the "Give-Away," do something to create a positive image, more jobs leading to a good retirement, and a clean environment to encourage citizens not to leave and businesses to come to a county determined to keep taxes low, and a willingness to "roll back" our taxes when appropriate.

Seven: In line with Six above, the legislators in Montgomery, our Representative Warren included, have their salary tied to Alabama's average family income. Why not do the same in Macon County as every tax payer would see a lower demand on their hard earned money?

The Lucky Soles

Position Name Salary Current Allowance* Proposed Expense
Chairman
Louis Maxwell
$61,579
benefits**
$4,800
Dist 1 Commissioner
Miles Robinson
$23,274
$15,638
$4,800
Dist 2 Commissioner
Ed "Coach" Huffman
$23,274
$15,638
$4,800
Dist 3 Commissioner
Andrew "Drew" Thompson
$23,274
$15,638
$4,800
Dist 4 Commissioner
Robert "Mike" Berry
$23,274
$15,638
$4,800
Sheriff***
Andre Brunson
$63,000
unknown
$4,800
Revenue Commissioner
Iverson Gandy, Jr.
$78,000
unknown
$4,800
Alfonza Menefee
Probate Judge
$103,000
unknown
$4,800
TOTAL PER YEAR
$398,675
$62,552 +
$38,400

* I stand corrected by quoting an error in their reporting with their statement "that CAN be used as discretionary for district recreation facilities," which should have been the allowance of $15,638 is for RECREATION ONLY, per Commissioner Berry. Sorry for any confusion this may have caused.

** What is the dollar value of having a county car entirely at one's disposal, 24/7. A vehicle we bought, pay its insurance, maintenance, and commercially purchased or county gasoline.

*** The Sheriff, who places his life on the line every day keeping each of us and visitors safe, deserves a pay raise of at least $20,000, which is available instead of the $38,400 massive Give-Away. Download, sign, and get your friends and neighbors to sign "Sheriff Brunson Pay Raise" petition.

The proposed allowances, though not money that can be spent is to be designated as for their retirement. In this scenario, "part-time" elected public county commissioners is a misnomer.

Three Options

ONE: By Wednesday, 17May2017, contact the three elected public servants listed above.

Two: Sign and have your Macon County resident friends and family do the same on this "No Give-Away" petition to be presented to Representative Warren. She emailed me stating that at least 200 names are required.

Three: Do nothing and watch a need for higher or newer taxes arise in the near further for roads, infrastructure, employees benefits, and you name it.

Questions?

Please address any questions, comments, concerns you have on this particular issue, call Representative Warren, of which I understand she is receiving quite a few, call your commissioner and ask where the money is coming from and why it is needed to be taken from the tax payer or email me.



Two new taxes and a strengthened one - partial successful battle, two out three dead and one with $.03 less per gallon fuel tax.

No New County Fuel Tax

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.