Are Volusia County taxpayers really demanding to pay more?
On Monday, The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s editorial board published an interesting piece entitled, “Take sales tax off the table.”
They should have stopped there.
After rehashing the who, what, when and why last year’s half-cent money grab crashed and burned, the editorial hinted at some veiled initiative by “a group of Volusia County residents” who are apparently working to get the proposal back on the ballot through a “citizen-led” petition drive.
Look, I consider myself relatively wired-in to current events – but I’ll be dipped if I’ve heard of any organized effort to force this issue back before voters with a grassroots initiative like the News-Journal implied.
I’m not saying it isn’t true – but I haven’t spoken to anyone who wants to champion the cause of taxing our own eyeballs out so the same players can get us deeper into this rotten quagmire – so, I’m merely suggesting that the News-Journal might want to flesh their weird theory out a little more in coming days. . .
In fact, most Volusia County resident’s I’ve talked to thought this issue was dead and buried when they voted against it during an incredibly expensive special election that cost taxpayers $490,000 – because that’s what our ‘powers that be’ were convinced (by a privately funded consultant) would give their tax the best possible chance of passing.
Everyone who is anyone in county/city government was whipped into a greed-crazed froth by Dr. Kent Sharples and his secret society of millionaires over at the CEO Business Alliance – ostensibly bright politicians and political insiders who went blind to public perception in their avaricious anticipation of the windfall they all knew was coming.
Right up until the votes were tallied. . .
What our uber-wealthy “brain trust” failed to comprehend, or accept, is the depth of suspicion and cynicism that has driven a wedge between citizens and those they elect and appoint to represent their interests.
I mean, what part of the “trust issue” don’t they understand?
The uncontrolled growth and sprawl which continues unabated directly on top of our aquifer recharge areas?
The impact fee debacle which saw shadowy factions inside county government intentionally hiding a publicly funded study from decision-makers and residents?
The continuing fight to overturn the voter-approved Amendment 10?
The massive giveaways and incentives to billionaire corporations?
The active suppression of citizen input in public policy decisions or the utter ineptitude and ham-handed bungling that has made a mockery of the legislative process?
The strategic rot of publicly owned facilities, the blight and dilapidation of our beachside, the looming financial exposure of SunRail, the mismanagement of our most important natural amenity, the complete lack of leadership and vision, the oversize influence of wealthy insiders, yada, yada, yada?
I’m asking – because it baffles me that those who occupy the seats of official and unofficial power in Volusia County can’t grasp the gravity and consequences of this growing wariness and mistrust.
In my view, if we’ve learned anything, it’s that no tax increase is ever really dead in Volusia County – and the elected officials and government contractors who stand to reap the lucrative benefits could give two-shits about the will of the people – or respecting our sacred vote.
The only viable option I’ve heard since it became apparent our oligarchical system wouldn’t take no for an answer has been brought by Big John, Volusia County’s preeminent government watchdog, and a valiant warrior in the fight to defend the rights of taxpayers, is touting an idea to have any revenues generated by a sales tax increase directed by an independent citizen committee outside the influence of government.
Now, I’m not even sure that’s legal – and there are a lot of moving parts to be sorted out – but I understand that some serious people are willing to serve.
It’s an interesting concept that speaks to how low we’ve sunk.
An environment where citizens must form an external oversight committee – separate and removed from the greed and maladministration of their elected officials – to make policy decision that can no longer be trusted to the mechanisms of local government. . .
Perhaps it’s time for Volusia County voters to open their eyes – just as they did when they answered the sales tax question the first time around.
When we need an external means of administrating public funds for much-needed infrastructure, water quality and utilities projects to keep pace with massive growth – perhaps its time to change the composition of our elective bodies by electing servant-leaders who respect the will of the people – and put our quality of life before their own craven self-interests.