City, county officials should plan betterPublished 5:49pm Saturday, November 30, 2013
City and county officials must plan better in the future.
The Austin City Council and Mower County Board of Commissioners both scheduled their annual Truth in Taxation public meetings for 6 p.m. Tuesday, forcing Austin residents to choose between attending the city’s meeting or the county’s meeting.
Truth in Taxation meetings are supposed to be about transparency. The meetings are vital forums for residents to voice concerns over taxes and a time for the public to ask officials about the factors driving taxes. When residents are forced to choose between meetings, they’re forced to settle for part of story.
The good news is that things are looking better now than they did a year ago. Austin’s city property taxes will decrease by 1 percent next year, and the county board is looking lower a 2.2 percent max tax increase for 2014 — much lower than the board’s 9.11 percent increase last year, which was lowered to about 6 percent, thanks to the use of $500,000 in reserves.
While we commend officials for the more positive tax outlook, that’s no consolation for the meetings being held at the exact same time. City and county officials have worked together on countless projects in the past, and there is no excuse for not being able to exchange a few emails or phone calls to ensure the meetings are scheduled at different times, so people can attend both.
It’s just common sense.
After all, the taxpayers are the ones paying public officials’ salaries, and we deserve better. We deserve for our voices to be heard — at both meetings.
We urge public officials to take time to plan better in the future. This is a problem that and should have been easily avoided.