Originally published in the Jacksonville Observer
Mayor John Peyton has been fighting a battle with the people of Jacksonville over his irrational desire to raise taxes during a recession. The overwhelming majority of taxpayers don’t want a tax increase and he knows it, and doesn’t care. He has inundated the City with statistics and graphs that are half-truths, easily discernible by a close look at the four-hundred page city budget. Nevertheless the mayor is counting on the fact that most people don’t have the time to read it. He is counting on the fact that most people don’t have the time to come out to meetings and protest because they are too busy working, but that those who depend on the city coffers for their meat and bread have more than enough time to do so.
The mayor has attacked the police and fire department pension rights because he knows that the word “Union” doesn’t play well in the South. He ignores the fact that good men and women have a First Amendment right to assemble, and this includes the unions. He should not blame the police and fire departments for the City’s financial woes. Firemen rush into burning buildings and the police deal with horror every day. They earn their pay and their right to a pension. The mayor should hire better negotiators and he wouldn’t have to raise taxes this year.
We must remember that our property tax is collected by force. If you don’t pay, the government comes to take your home. We know we must be taxed, but only for services that benefit every citizen equally; firehouses, libraries, street repairs and there is plenty of money for that. We could cut the number of parks in Jacksonville in half and never miss them, but there is plenty of money for parks too. What cannot be justified are special projects that benefit sports teams, or equestrian centers, or monuments to posterity like the damnable courthouse, or an overhaul of Metropolitan Park, not now. Cut those out and the mayor wouldn’t have to raise taxes this year.
Social programs often benefit only a select few, and nobody can deny that there are people in need, and that they are worthy of assistance. But the mayor should also know that there is no end to the number of needy people in the world. Republicans think that only a fool would suggest that government provide health care, food, clothing, housing, and counseling for everyone who lacks it. It is difficult enough to provide these things for myself, my family, my friends, and for those I choose to give to, and I do give. My tax returns are open to any who doubt that.
I agree with those who say, “I work hard for what I have and I share it with whom I want to. Government does not have the right to force me to be charitable, or to tell me where my charity will be spent.”
Those who attempt to do so commit robbery, stealing by force what is not theirs. The Mayor should abandon his preoccupation with the ideology of the socialist progressives who would spend everybody’s money but their own and he wouldn’t have to raise taxes this year.
In the present financial climate it is obvious that the budget must be cut. The members of the city council are the ones who must cut the budget. That is the type of city council we want, and make no mistake, that is the type of city council that we will soon have.
Mayor Peyton wants to know what type of city we want. Let him at last listen! Call the City Council and tell them. This is the type of city we want. Let it be said that Jacksonville has the lowest tax rate in the entire South. Then businesses will come here, capital will flow in, everyone who wants to work will have work, charitable causes will find no difficulty finding support, and he wouldn’t have to raise taxes this year.