City approves expense without taxpayers’ say
To the editor:
There are a variety of different taxes we must all pay. There is sales tax, gasoline tax, income tax, property tax and so on and so on. But, the tax that pays for our public safety is property tax.
Residents of incorporated cities, who own property, pay both city and county taxes.
Prior to 1972, the city of Fairfield and Jefferson County had numerous discussions on how to replace an out-dated jail and police-fire station. In 1972, a 28E Agreement was entered into between the city and county dividing the operating costs of a new joint facility based on square footage.
In 1999, a new Law Enforcement Center was built. A new 28E agreement dividing operating costs was signed by the city and county based on square footage utilized by the police department and sheriff’s office/jail.
The 1972 agreement established The Jefferson County Service Agency. A function of the service agency is to deliberate on issues regarding the law center and go back to their respective governing body with recommendations.
The service agency is chaired by a private citizen and consists of two members from the board of supervisors and two members from the city council. The Sheriff and Chief of Police are non-voting members serving as advisors to the service agency.
Now what brings me to writing this letter to the editor is this. I read the front-page article in the Friday, Nov. 29 Fairfield Ledger, “City agrees to pay greater share of law center expenses.”
Sheriff Gregg Morton asked the city council to consider a fair and equitable raise in shared costs to 50/50 for certain expenditures. Further in the article, Mayor Ed Malloy asked Morton if this had gone before the Service Agency Board and Morton indicated he would, but wanted to know what the city council thought about the cost sharing changes.
Mayor Malloy further asked Chief of Police Julie Harvey for her opinion regarding these changes. Chief Harvey felt the 50/50 split was fair and equitable. According to the article, the city council approved the sheriff’s proposal before allowing themselves an opportunity to get feedback from service agency members or city property taxpayers.
I have to respectfully disagree with the mayor and city council’s decision. I believe Mayor Malloy, who is a past member of the service agency, should have recommended the city council table the proposal affording city council members the opportunity to look at what percentage city property taxpayers are already paying. Tabling the action would also allow city council service agency members the opportunity to receive input from constituents for discussion at the service agency meeting and a follow up recommendation to the city council for action.
– Randy Cooksey, Fairfield