Vanessa Williams (R) is running for the Dist. 13 seat on Jacksonville City Council and she is already focusing on the tax issue that will surely be a hot topic when voters select council members in 2011. Williams issued a statement on Wednesday and she threw down a glove to inspire other Council members.
The official campaign statement promised Williams “pledges to the voters of District 13 that she will never vote for a tax increase, millage rate increase or fee increase as a member of the Jacksonville City Council and asks her fellow candidates to do the same.”
Williams had expressed “disappointment” with the current council immediately after members voted on Sept. 29 to approve another tax increase. Williams is the only candidate as far as Jacksonville Republican Examiner can tell to make a formal statement about the increase.
Jacksonville residents are not only grappling with the latest tax increases, they’re also paying garbage fee increases and increased rates for utilities.
“The people of Jacksonville who are tightening their budget to make ends meet need to know that their elected officials will support them in today’s challenging economy and not support a bigger government. I pledge to the voters today that as a Member of the City Council, I will never vote for a tax increase, fee increase or millage rate increase. I am asking my fellow candidates to pledge to the voters of Jacksonville that they will do the same,” said Williams.
Williams is seeking the seat currently held by Dick Brown who was appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist (NPA) after sitting council member John Meserve was suspended.
One problem with city spending is lack of specificity on where money goes. That was evident during the final council meeting before the tax increase when no one could answer specific questions about city-funded scholarships.
In October area media disclosed cell phones for city employees were costing $80,000 a month. That figure did not include cell phone costs for policemen and other front line employees.
During public hearings it has been obvious that some areas can withstand cost cutting.
Williams said, “When I read the City is spending $400,000 to study moving the fair from downtown to the Westside and $1,000,000 for artwork in the new courthouse, I know there are spending cuts in the budget that can be made before deciding to raise tax rates again. Garbage fees were more than doubled just two weeks ago and the School Board voted for a tax increase as well. Enough is enough. Jacksonville residents do not deserve this treatment and when elected to City Council, the first thing I will sponsor is legislation that will repeal the recent rate increases and instead identify spending cuts.”
At the moment Williams is the only candidate pushing the matter of stopping tax increases as 2011 approaches. It’s obvious her concerns are warranted. When a cash-strapped city spends $1,000,000 for artwork in a courthouse, the purchase raises serious questions about accountability to taxpayers for their money.