Ocean City Today

Tax hikes benefit gov’t, not citizens

Readers' Forum
Sep 07, 2017


printed 09/08/2017



Following nine years of improper constant-yield adjustments and/or tax increases by local politicians, the citizens’ petition to lower taxes emerged in 2014.

A little over 80 percent of the respondents signed to put the tax-reduction issue on the ballot. The petition was certified by the election board as a properly subscribed petition. To keep the people’s petition from going on the ballot, the mayor and every councilperson (except Mr. Gehrig) voted to sue in local court to stop the petition, taking away the basic right of citizens to determine their governance and wrongly making it a judge’s decision. So typical in Maryland.

Although the people had spoken through the petition, the fate of the petition would be determined by Maryland judges. I wrote nine documents to Federal Court in an effort to have the case heard federally, to bypass the Maryland courts. After months of documents and a number of procedural errors I made (I am not a lawyer) the city prevailed, the case was never heard federally and was remanded to local court.

Retired Judge Jackson was brought out of mothballs as the local judiciary tried to appear impartial. Jackson promptly ruled to quash the petition, just what I expected. On appeal, Maryland’s Court of Appeals ruled the petition on taxes “was not in the public’s interest.”

It meant the petition to lower taxes was not in the government’s interest.  Certainly, people are quite able to determine what is in their interests. The only appeal from the high Maryland court is to the Supreme Court of the United States: above my pay grade for now.

For the two years since the petition to lower taxes was court rejected, local politicians have for the first time in a decade lowered taxes. Has this been a victory of sorts for the majority of citizens? On its face it would appear so. Certainly, local politicians have taken credit for lowering taxes.

However, don’t be fooled by appearance. In both 2015 and 2016 spending, has increased by over 3 percent a year. This creates unpaid debts in the future. Taking credit for lowering taxes while quietly increasing spending is deceitful causing the public to falsely believe they received a benefit. While your elected politicians quietly incur unfunded costs that will force increased taxes in the future, or more borrowing.

This exposes a political inability to control spending and will most certainly determine future tax increases. So, be wary of politicians who take credit for tax reductions when at the same moment they approve annual spending increases—a huge problem in government!

This genre of duplicitous politician is not unique to Ocean City; it plagues the county, the state, and the federal government.  It speaks loudly of financial irresponsibility and, if not disclosed and controlled, threatens the foundations of our financial solvency.

These political behaviors should not be tolerated. Politicians who allow increased government spending while reducing taxes to curry political favor can only flourish in the absence of public accountability and consequences.

When a socio-political system, like ours, that claims to be democratic imposes no consequences on politicians, who do not treat public funds like they treat their own money then public spending becomes unmoored and eventually insolvency becomes an issue that will involve the entire community.

When citizens fail to hold elected officials responsible for unfunded balance sheet spending, when there are no consequences for politicians who cannot control their public spending eventually consequences are visited on the citizenry.

When the public is apathetic, disinterested, accepting of political actions without consequences we are showing a serf’s mentality of submissive acceptance toward our politician’s actions. In time, if it persists, our personal liberties will be lost and we will find ourselves in serfdom.

Tony Christ

Ocean City

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