Leaving the city council meeting Monday evening we spoke with a taxpayer who admitted to confusion about what he'd just heard.
“So there's money enough to spend on that Pantheon but we need a new tax to pay for the fire department?”
That's pretty much what the financial advisor told council members — that funding for the fire department was a worry and they should consider adopting a public-safety income tax to solve the problem.
Yet, in the same presentation, members were told the Pantheon was a necessary infrastructure expense.
For us, that ruined what otherwise was an informative presentation — and led us to question just how valuable what we'd heard truly was.
To view that vanity project as necessary is to present a whole different take on what the vast majority of taxpayers in the community consider vital to their welfare — fire and police protection, parks and recreation facilities, clean streets and reasonable rewards to aid in business development and job creation.
If the Pantheon was a necessity, if there were a great demand for its services, there would already be a makeshift facility up and running to partially satisfy that need.
Crafting a municipal budget these days is akin to financial alchemy, requiring wizardry of a high caliber.
And once a budget is finally put together and approved (usually with some revision) by the state's Department of Local Government Finance, those circuit breakers come into play; that dollar the city thought it would be getting in property-tax revenue turns out to be in reality only 64 cents upon delivery to the local treasury.
When a property-tax dollar ends up being worth only 64 cents, it must be spent with prudence — skill and good judgment have to be at a premium.
Allocating precious tax revenues (property or income derived) toward projects like the Pantheon demonstrates neither skill in managing public money nor good judgment in its expenditure, but merely exuberant foolishness.
And to compound such folly by adopting another tax to make up for what has been lost through a lack of fiduciary self-discipline is just a slap in the face to local residents.
It is good to see we now have at least a couple of council members who have the fortitude to buck the current go-along-to-get-along attitude and are willing to vote “no” to requests for additional tax dollars going toward the project.
Their votes now, unfortunately, may be only symbolic.
But they will be long remembered.