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Monday, April 11, 2011

Political Machinations in Snellville

Citizens of Snellville, I really try to keep this blog non-political, but it really burns my biscuits when someone seems to have their own interests ahead of what the city and community needs. Therefore, I really need to speak out here. I don't mean to be unkind. But unfortunately, some people don't seem to care what damage they do to Snellville's image as long as they can "win" or be elected.  I keep trying to give one of our council members the benefit of the doubt, but put a fork in me, I'm done doing that. There's a part of me that doesn't want to even bring attention to this, but this kind of nonsense has happened time and time again and I'm very tired of it. I think citizens should be informed.

Snellville City Council member Kelly Kautz sent an email to some media outlets this afternoon, outlining how she would like Snellville business owners to attend the city council meeting this evening to show support for an ordinance Ms. Kautz is proposing that would allow business owners to apply for a financial hardship and not pay their occupational tax.

In the email, Ms. Kautz entreats small business owners to support the ordinance. Several things about this just don't sit right with me, and I'll go into them after you read an excerpt of her email in the blue area below, as posted on Patch. Even Patch's editor had to say she was posting the email in its entirety (which I take to mean loosely "We aren't taking responsibility for all the errors in this hot mess.")
"Of course I do not have the support of the majority of Council because "the timing is not right." As the Mayor stated he would hate for me to be able to put that I helped small businesses on a campaign flyer.  This is the same excuse that was used when I tried to pass an Ethics ordinance for the City. Unfortuantley, [sic] the Council has been supportive of the ordinance up until now so it has drawn very little attention.

When talking with our local businesses they feel that in this (tough) economy the one thing that the City could do to help them is to lower their business taxes. In looking at the numbers a small business really does not pay much in occupation taxes. The ordinance could have the potential to assist over 1000 businesses in Snellville without costing the City a small amount of money.

The top 10 businesses (who would not be eligible under this ordinance) actually pay almost half of the revenue collected by the City."
Portions of this make absolutely no sense, but the last line should open everyone's eyes. If this ordinance is to "show goodwill to our small businesses that make up our community," why would we want to essentially punish 10 really great, strong businesses in Snellville for their success?  The larger businesses employ more people in Snellville and help our economy a lot too. Where's our goodwill toward them?

If I was on the city council and I wanted Snellville business owners to support an ordinance like this one, I would certainly make an earlier effort to get the community and businesses educated about the measure. I wouldn't email the media the day of the meeting. As a business owner who pays Home Occupation Tax myself, this is the first I've heard of it. If I wanted this ordinance to pass, I would be contacting every business owner on Snellville's rolls. She should know how to access the information, after all she's a trial attorney [Kautz Law Firm - there you go, a free ad. Enjoy.]. Defense attorneys have to know how to do research, and this certainly wouldn't be a difficult public awareness project to undertake.

What's interesting to me is that although I'm sure a Snellville City Council member of Ms. Kautz's caliber would know about the City of Snellville's Communication Survey that was conducted recently. She would know that My Snellville Blog was the local media source most read by the survey's respondents. Seems to me she would sure My Snellville Blog knew about the ordinance as well as her opinion on it, to promote the ordinance to people in Snellville. I mean, if you REALLY wanted to promote it so the measure would pass - not just so that your name would be online showing something you attempted to do, so you could look like a great champion?

It probably doesn't matter (to Ms. Kautz) if the ordinance gets passed or not. It's on the books and on the web now. Just like she's drawing attention to the ethics ordinance (by the way, it was shown later we didn't need a special ethics ordinance, we already had a suitable ordinance on the books thank you very much, it just needed to be tweaked [see how] and one could say she's really milking the ordinance, but that would be the original ethics ordinance Ms. Kautz brought forward, which was flawed and that's why it didn't pass.

I have some questions about all this -
  • Who are the business owners who want this ordinance? 
  • Business owners, did you go to Ms. Kautz about this need, or did she go to you? 
  • Are you aware that City of Snellville employees have not had a raise in THREE YEARS? 
  • If you supported the ordinance previously, would you still support it knowing about the employees not receiving raises for three years?
  • Do you not feel, as I do, that occupational taxes are just another part of doing business? - A normal business expense (It's deductible on my business taxes too)

HINT: We need some good folks with Snellville's best interests at heart to step up and run for a city council post. Ms. Kautz is up for re-election in 2012.

We've all worked too hard to repair Snellville's image to allow someone (who should be on the side of both the city and the citizens) to destroy it. We can continue on the positive path we've begun, but clearly we all need to participate and step in to protect Snellville.

More on the Occupational Tax Hardship Ordinance - I say Snellville can operate lean and mean by keeping things simple.

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