I had the most profoundly offensive meeting of city government tonight in my 1.5 years on City Council.
Our Macon Water Authority asked us to consider a “Storm Water Utility,” which would — in essence — tax every property owner in the county for the rain. Or, put another way, tax every homeowner based on an estimate of the impervious surfaces on each piece of property that rain water can flow off of into the storm water system.
Let’s concede that cities and counties need to pay for their storm water systems.
Here is the kicker: the bureaucrats who pushed this proposal tonight said to refer to it as a “user fee” and not a tax.
(1) If you own property you must pay it.
(2) If it does not rain for six months, the amount you pay does not change.
(3) The payment goes toward upkeep of storm water systems and drains.
(4) The only way to avoid paying it if you own property is to get rid of every impervious surface, i.e. your sidewalk, driveway, and house.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is a tax on your property. Add to this that some zoning mandates a minimum size development. There should at least be an exemption on the impervious surfaces required to meet that minimum level, but I doubt many governments do that.
And they refused to concede the point. They said the Georgia Supreme Court agrees with them.
The kicker was the government bureaucrat urging us to tax the rain wants us to do it in a hurry before local businesses and churches pay attention to the issue.
The bureaucrats told us that 30 municipalities in Georgia have a rain tax . . . er . . . storm water user fee.
I do not deny that these systems need to be paid for. But how on earth can we trust government bureaucrats to deal honestly with the issue when they refuse to call it what it is and want you to rush it through before anyone finds out?
Speaker Richardson wants some honest tax reforms in the state. He could start by making sure these taxes are treated as taxes. At least if it were honestly treated, a taxpayer could deduct the cost of this property tax in their federal income taxes.