One day, two cities, two councils and lots of discussion about taxes and taxpayers’ money.
If you’re a civics nut, Monday rocked. Anniston revived a mothballed gasoline tax. Jacksonville gave money — $1 million — to its public schools to build a gym. Let’s assume that since this concerns politics and money, these councils’ decisions haven’t been met with unanimous community support.
For the record, both decisions makes sense.
As often is the case on Gurnee Avenue, Anniston’s approval to reimpose an unenforced tax on gasoline retailers was enveloped in backstory and confusion. The short version: the city stopped collecting the 2-cents-a-gallon tax in 2007, though no definitive reason has been unearthed and, apparently, there isn’t a paper-trail record that proves the details behind the stoppage. Nevertheless, Anniston has literally left money on the table that’s earmarked for road maintenance.
In other words, good move, Anniston.
Jacksonville’s decision is more controversy than confusion. If you’ve followed Jacksonville politics in recent months, you’re aware that the Board of Education and City Hall have been overwhelmed by the future of Kitty Stone Elementary School and the city’s need for a new public safety complex. Earlier this year, the board voted to build a new and improved Kitty Stone. Dissenters were numerous. The council, on a 3-2 vote Monday, agreed to give the board $1 million to build a “competition” gym for the new school, with the money being drawn from a borrowed $14 million for the new police station and City Hall improvements.
Good move, Jacksonville? Probably so. When building, you only get one chance to do things right the first time. And in Jacksonville, where Kitty Stone is both an educational and historical icon, it’s hard to disagree with the council’s million-dollar decision.
The point, in case you’re wondering, has nothing to do with Anniston and Jacksonville and everything to do with residents and their involvement with local government. In a single day, two councils made major decisions that, depending on where you live, how much you drive and where you children are educated, could affect thousands of people’s lives. These weren’t rote actions. They were debated, vetted and voted on. They passed.
Oftentimes, local government is more boredom than sexy, juicy politics. But it matters. If you don’t think so, ignore it at your own peril.