Albany City Manager Alfred Lott is feeling pretty proud of himself right now. After all, he’s managed to craft a budget that doesn’t require laying off any city employees. He also does a few really good things as far as I’m concerned. He cut funding for the South Georgia Wildcats, fireworks shows, and the city’s office for Small and Disadvantaged Businesses. As I personally believe all private businesses need to be 100% privately funded and managed, I have no problem with any of this. But, as they say in infomercials, there’s more.
And yet, Mr. Lott still wants to raise property taxes .7-mil, which he claims will amount to about $1 million, to fund the city’s new gang task force. Mr. Lott said in an interview with WALB that he believes the tax payers will be OK with this increase since it goes for a specific function. Unfortunately, I suspect he’s right. And what’s more, I suspect the City Commission will agree as well.
However, here’s a couple of things to think about. First is the concept of property taxes. A property tax isn’t really a tax on your property. Nope. It’s rent you pay to the government for the privilege of “owning” property. If you think you really own it, don’t pay your property taxes and see what happens. That’s right, it’s the same thing as if you don’t pay a landlord rent…you’re out on your butts. You have no real property rights except that which the government gives you, because they’re the real owners.
Next, I have a problem with the idea that taxes need to increase to fund a gang task force when the city’s budget is already bloated. Just take a look at the Flint Riverquarium, or as I call it, the albatross. The city finances this thing, dropping millions each year to subsidize it, and it still operates in the red. Mr. Lott? If you want to free up some money, try privatizing the Riverquarium. A non-profit can be founded with the purpose of running it, but would be tasked with all funding for it. Then, if it closes, it closes. It’s called the free market, and this thing was never going to generate the revenue that was claimed.
Further, you could phase out the trash collection monopoly, open it up for competition, and wash your hands of the whole thing. Competition would keep prices low, probably on par with what people are already paying for trash collection, and the city’s part in this? Zero. Let’s privatize as much as possible, removing the city’s finances significantly, and allowing them to focus on public safety offices like police and fire departments.
But then, people might figure out that they don’t need as much government as they’ve been led to believe.