What services will you sacrifice?
Families for a Safe Hartselle seems to have won a shallow victory. Citizens of Hartselle seem to have had their say on the wet/dry issue and the property tax increase seems to have died an untimely death due to lack of support by the citizens of Hartselle.
Now it is time for a sales tax increase. Will Families for a Safe Hartselle have the intestinal fortitude to stand up and convince the citizens, along with you, to support a sales tax increase?
The property tax increase did not have the same energetic approach that the wet/dry issue had. I did not hear any of the clergy or Families for a Safe Hartselle down at city hall supporting a property tax increase and I do not hear of any support for a sales tax increase.
Any type of increase is never a popular item on anyone's agenda. Let us give credit to Councilman (Tom) Chappell for having the courage to bring forth the sales tax issue and to those council members that support the issue.
The city of Hartselle is in need of additional revenues. Currently, the city is in good financial shape. However, there are many projects that need to be accomplished and equipment updates that need to be forthcoming.
Without the additional revenues, some choices will have to be made on the amount and type of city services that Hartselle can deliver to its citizens. The question the citizens need to ask themselves is "What services are we willing to do without?"
Some services could be updated and delivered in an efficient manner, such as yard debris pickup. The present method is the most inefficient method that I have ever seen.
The cost in man-hours is outrageous.
During the month of March this year, over 500 man-hours were expended picking up yard debris at an estimated cost of $60 per hour or $1 per minute to operate the broom trucks.
That equates to over $30,000 spent just to pickup yard debris and haul it to the Hartselle landfill. Now, multiply that by 12 months-with each stop of five to 10 minutes at each pile placed on the street, that equals $5-$10.
Would you pay someone $5-$10 to haul away your pile of yard debris? I seriously doubt that most citizens would be willing to pay that same amount out of their own pocket.
But, you will allow your tax dollars to be spent this way. It is possible that a private contractor could pick up yard debris at a much lower cost.
Since Hartselle receives a 5-mill property tax on each taxable property, this would equate to $50 on a property tax assessed at $100,000. This $50 does not even cover police and fire protection, let alone any other service you receive.
If you wish to continue to be catered to and maintain the status quo of Hartselle's current system, the only recourse is to raise additional revenue with a 1-cent sales tax increase.
I believe city operation and delivery of services to the citizens can be streamlined and efficiencies improved to the point these services can be delivered more frequently. Perhaps the council members should consider a half-cent sales tax increase.
At least two of the council members are opposed to improving and streamlining the delivery of city services. They wish to maintain the status quo. Just pump more money into the same old sinkhole. Perhaps it would be wise to remember them at the polls.
I do have issues with some items on the Capital Improvement Plan.
(1) Soccer fields: I believe that sports are an important part of any community. My concern is that too much emphasis is placed on soccer and other sports. Few, if any, Hartselle students will earn a living, as an adult, playing professional sports. They will need skills of reading, writing and arithmetic.
Currently, Alabama ranks close to the bottom of the list when it comes to its education system in spending per child. We need to invest more financial support into the Hartselle School system and the future of Hartselle, the state of Alabama, and the United States of America.
(2) Old Burleson School Renovation: I believe that it is great for a city to have historical buildings. However, these buildings should not be renovated at taxpayer expense. Some cost sharing is fine, but not to the tune of $4.5 million.
The city could build a real nice auditorium for this money.
Gene B. Aittala
Writer in favor of tax increase
I am for the 1 cent sales tax increase.
Tax increase would be a waste
The citizens and visitors of Hartselle should not pay one more cent in tax. Whether it be local, state or federal level, we all pay more than necessary in taxes and should be getting a rebate check.
Our tax dollars, as they currently stand, and if properly managed, should be more than adequate funding for Hartselle.
Raising taxes, at all levels of state government, when economies are bad and taxes are already through the roof, is a terrible thing to do.
The citizens of Hartselle, as a whole, are good, humanitarian people. But enough is enough. We are already burdened with too many problems, such as the growing national debt; funding the war on terrorism; and the illegal immigration problems that cost untold billions in tax dollars nationwide, every year.
We already live in one of the poorest states. And, if things continue on the same track, we will be one of the highest taxed.
I will close this letter with a final comment. In the not too distant past, we have the opportunity to raise additional revenue for Hartselle. At that time, if I remember correctly, we were told our city was financially sound. What a difference one day makes.