Although I did not use the word taxes, I described my approach to budgeting and to decisions regarding whether and when services should be provided by the County (and thus supported by taxes or other revenues). My approach is designed to ask the tough questions to be sure that we can live within our means in our rural island community. Part of this is seeking to improve the efficiency of services the County is required to provide, and then to think carefully about when the County needs to be involved in the provision of other services. Keeping the County efficient and overhead at a minimum will prevent the unnecessary raising of taxes.
It’s important to recognize that most taxes are not under the control of the county council. The large majority of taxes are set by the state or have been voted into place by the citizens of the county. What the county council can do is to try to create a more efficient government with easier to understand regulations, which could facilitate some lowering of fees or fines.
The way to lower taxes is to increase efficiency and to reduce services.
As a Council Member I always asked voters to authorize or reject any proposed tax increases. I am grateful to the voters for supporting the levy lid lift in 2009 and the public safety sales tax in 2012. I respect the voters’ decision to reject the solid waste parcel fee in 2011.
I do not see additional significant cost savings and/or efficiencies that could maintain existing County programs and services while reducing costs and thereby lower taxes. If the voters were to authorize cuts to and/or eliminate programs or services that are not state or federally mandated, then I would support a corresponding reduction in taxes.
The only way to reduce taxes is to reduce spending and to encourage commerce. We need to define what our functions/priorities are and then how we want to go about funding them. What are our acceptable levels of service? The Council hopes to be able to assess these questions through our Community Conversation meetings.