Your View: Facts on city tax, utility rates aren’t pretty
On Nov. 15, High Point Mayor-elect Bernita Sims was quoted in an area newspaper: “Some things were said during this election that to me said that there were some basic misunderstandings about what Council does, and about what this Council did. …How can you make an assessment that Council did not do a good job on the budget if you weren’t there?”
If you’re wondering what “things were said,” I’ll say them again. Based on High Point’s 2012 budget, we have the highest property tax, water-sewer rates, electric rates, employee ratio per 1,000 residents and second-highest per capita budget of any N.C. city over 100,000 people. Further, City Council has overseen a $439.5 million (4.7 percent) decline in property values the last three years, while other peer cities have maintained or grown their values.
These are facts (not opinions) you can easily confirm with the N.C. Department of Revenue, UNC School of Government and individual city budgets. These statements are no less true just because people who opposed them won re-election.
Tellingly, during the campaign no incumbent sought to rebut one of my facts. They merely sought to shoot the messenger as “irresponsible,” a user of “rhetoric” or someone who “[wasn’t] there” at city budget meetings. If my claims were untrue, surely the incumbents, with their wealth of experience, would have refuted them by now with evidence.
To their credit on Nov. 8, the Enterprise wrote “High Point’s current City Council has received criticism recently for not being conservative enough with taxpayer dollars,” breaking what has been a deafening silence on a major local government issue.
Mayor Sims is a smart woman with good ideas to advance High Point. But starting her tenure by continuing City Council’s official policy of denial about High Point’s excessive municipal expenses is not an encouraging first move.
The writer was a candidate in City Council’s at-large race.
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