Elkins Councilman asking questions

In public service there are times when the right decision is not always the popular decision. Conversely, a popular decision is not always the right decision. When my colleagues on city council voted in favor of a 1 percent sales tax without being able to answer basic questions like why such a tax is necessary or how that money will be spent once collected, their decision was both wrong and unpopular.

As representatives of the people we are supposed to make decisions that are in the best interest of the people. When our decisions are obviously opposite to the expressed interest of a majority of our constituents, we have a duty to explain why we felt those decisions were the right thing to do based on the information available to us at the time.

How can my fellow council members say that what we are doing is the right thing when we are so blatantly acting against the interest of the people without any explanation or justification by voting on measures without complete facts? How can my fellow council members be so quick to vote for a tax increase when they cannot answer important questions the public has about its justification or implementation? How does such action serve the public?

Unfortunately, while trying to get answers to the public’s many unanswered questions at the last council meeting, debate was summarily closed, and a roll call vote was taken. I was shut out from asking anything more.

Therefore, I am asking those question now.

1. Why is this tax increase necessary?

2. How will this money be spent?

3. Have we taken a hard look at internal cost savings before deciding to raise taxes? For example, reducing the amount we spend on legal services. (We currently spend more money for legal counsel than cities with a population in excess of 45,000 people).

These are questions that residents had before this tax increase was passed and they remain unanswered. However, their concerns were brushed aside in favor of hastily passing a tax increase for reasons that have still not been explained. This is government at its worst.

If there is ever a time when public servants should take all deliberative care before acting upon a proposal, it is when we are proposing to deprive citizens of their hard-earned money by raising taxes.

Christopher Lowther

Third Ward Councilman, Elkins