I feel so sorry for the city residents in Morristown, since they have been so ill-informed and aware of city government policies but on the other hand, seeking information and accountability does not seem to be a priority either. The result is that the city is about to enact the largest tax increase in the city's history. Still, with the increase, the tax rate on property will be about $1.35 per $100 of assessed value, and perhaps residents are just gladly oblivious.
Oddities abound in the revelation that the city's finances are tanking. Such as - the information was not a topic among the recent city election in May. And since only a few thousand people bothered to even vote anyway, well, it's as if the residents just shrugged and went on to putter in the yard or watch some TV rather than vote. However, since info of an impending financial nightmare was absent, who can blame them?
The budget problems seem to be rooted in pie-in-the-sky projections from the city staff. They adopted previous budget plans based on the idea that sales tax growth would be about 5% over the next 5 years -- a 25% increase in city revenues got zero response from elected officials, though that is a massive increase, essentially doubling the real revenue activity. Local press calls it "stagnant sales tax collection" instead of "normal rate of collection, which was negligently overestimated".
And conveniently for elected officials, all this was absent info until after the elections ended.
A new garbage collection tax on city residents, rising insurance costs for the city, rising costs of (also grossly under-estimated) city-wide sewer system construction, pay hikes for city employees, expanding the ranks of the police department are just some of the post-election realities now being served up to residents.
I have thought for a long time that A.) I am very glad I am a county resident and not a city one. While city actions can have an impact on the county, since I do not live in nor vote in the city affairs, then there is not much I can do or say. Also at the county level, just about all those in charge of running the county are elected and not appointed, which leads me to the next point; B.) The source of the problem in my opinion is that the elected city council and mayor positions have no, or limited, impact on city policies and operations. The city's administrator runs the show and no one votes for who has that job other than the council itself, whose knowledge of the city's affairs are all filtered through that same administrator.
Yet continuing to rely on the people who failed you in such a large way -- would that happen in the private sector? I seriously doubt it. The overall cost of taxation may be small, but the mistakes that led to the budget woes were preventable. And the burden of fixing the mess is landing on the residents rather than on those who cause the mess.