The Volusia County Council’s inability to sell the half-cent sales tax initiative this summer is indicative of a larger problem. In my view, our elected officials are missing the key element of any successful marketing strategy – or tax proposal: Trust.
Oblivious to the fact that they have lost basic credibility, County officials are once again staging their tired Kabuki, dramatically performed with equal parts apocalyptic prophecy, name calling, and threats against the municipalities, all designed to wring additional dollars from a tax-weary constituency.
Councilman Doug Daniels surmised that the cities hesitation was the result of a “failure to communicate.” Mr. Daniels and his fellow council members should understand – we read you loud and clear – we simply don’t trust you anymore.
Given the number of grassroots efforts seeking accountability, it is increasingly clear to everyone but County officials that they no longer have the consent of the governed.
I believe the seeds of this institutional distrust germinate in the County Managers office.
In my view, Jim Dinneen’s mismanagement of this and other important public policy issues best exemplify all that’s wrong with County government. Team Dinneen wants higher taxes because they need higher taxes; and spending cuts, the reduction of exorbitant executive salaries or curbing insider handouts are inconceivable.
A bureaucracy – especially one as bloated as this – requires tax dollars like a parasitic insect needs the blood of its host. Its very life depends upon it.
Public confidence in County government has been slowly eroded by the steady flow of missteps, bullying and legislative slight-of-hand that invariably benefits a privileged few while laying the financial burden squarely on the back of Volusia County residents.
As a result, we no longer assume Council decisions serve the common good. Now, we instinctively ask ourselves the darker question, “Who benefits?”