** Re-printed via permission of Susan Lynn. For more information, please visit Susan's blog at http://susan-lynn.blogspot.com/ or by clicking here.
I was very careful never to vote for tax increases - I must be pretty squeaky clean if she has to dredge up Private Acts in order to convince you that I voted for taxes.
Today Linda Elam sent out a mailer accusing me of “Allowing” tax increases. Again – she severely misleads and again this is extremely disingenuous. The items were not bills for statutes but they were Private Acts for local governments - each one starts with “subject to local approval” and enacted only if approved by the local government, or the people at the ballot box.
I hate to sound like I am schooling Ms. Elam, but the General Assembly can only pass bills or statutes that apply statewide. Only a local government or the people of the government can vote to impose a local law on themselves. Adopting a Private Act is not a political endorsement of the Act – most Acts are adopted unanimously.
In the last General Assembly, 80 requests for Private Acts were adopted for many different things, such as changing a local government’s charter, to repeal something previously passed, or to consider a local tax.
It is the local government or the local people that get to decide on the issue; not the General Assembly and in truth, the General Assembly should not micro manage local governments.
No state legislator should be blamed for imposing a local tax because he or she voted to adopt a Private Act. If the General Assembly routinely blocked Private Acts by rejecting adoption, the General Assembly would have a highly charged and very political atmosphere. I guess sort of like the Mt. Juliet city commission under Ms. Elam's tenure.
The Acts are a formal process that a local government must go through. Private Acts are not state statutes and are not enacted unless the local government votes for it by a super majority or the local people vote for it. After the Private Act is voted upon by the local governmen,t or the people, proof of the vote is sent to the Secretary of State who either amends the local government’s charter with the change imposed by the Act or if rejected locally or never voted upon the Private Act expires.
The Wilson County $17.7 million dollars in taxes in the mailer refers to a Private Act proposed by the Wilson County Commission to defray the cost of growth in Wilson County by use of an adequate facilities tax; a tax on each new dwelling or commercial property built in the county.
I remember the issue fairly well – while most people are generally opposed to new taxes many long time residents were for the proposal because they didn’t want to see their property taxes go up to pay for the rapid new growth in the county for the new roads, schools and law enforcement needs.
The Act was carried by Senator Beavers and Rep Bone in the General Assembly and adopted unanimously by the House and Senate - the adoption was not a political endorsement of the proposal but the General Assembly was simply allowing the local government to decide its own affairs. After a super majority vote by the Wilson County Commission passed the Act the vote was registered with the secretary of state and recorded.