As usual, my opponent has twisted the facts regarding the three referendum questions. They are simply 3 questions for the voters to inform Council of where you stand on three issues that keep coming back to Council.
I have always found it very easy to answer people’s concerns with facts and the truth. Maybe sometimes a little too straight forward, too direct for some people’s feelings, but giving a truthful factual answer is the best way to answer people. Most people know where I will stand on an issue, and that is the way it should be, if you are elected officials. You either appreciate this and like me for it, or you don’t.
Questions were placed on the 2017 ballot per Councilman Walker’s request, and he even made a lengthy plea as to how that was the best way “to hear” from people and resolve an issue, such as should we allow Chickens in Irmo or not? It was all about “listening” and hearing from the voters. We put that question on the ballot, the people voted, and as suspected the majority said “no”. If you remember, we were told back then that everybody in Town wanted chickens, the majority of people wanted chickens, they had petitions of people wanting chickens, and it turned out they were not the majority. The majority did not want chickens.
We have passed some ordinances since 2015 about no parking in the yard, cutting your grass, and minimum home maintenance (gutters and shutters being attached), and beefing up unsightly and unsanitary. Since we passed those ordinances Councilman Walker and his supporters have tried numerous times to overturn that with a “repeal and replace”, yet have never offered any better solutions for replacement. Sounds catchy, but it was really a repeal. We didn’t fall for it, but yet they keep coming back saying that the majority of people (a room full of people, petitions), and they are the majority. I don’t believe that, but this referendum question, “Should we overturn the no parking in the yard ordinance?”, would show everybody, Councilman Walker included, what the majority wants.
Another question has to do with bringing back property tax to pay for all these extra services Councilman Walker and his supporters keep saying the Town should provide. We have a limited revenue stream that already covers our police department, fire, public works, court, garbage, and town staff. So unless we are willing to bring back property tax to pay for all these extra services that a few keep thinking the Town should provide (Walker included), I think we ought to ask the question – “Do you all want to pay more taxes for more services?” My vote will be no. I believe your vote will be no. Again, let it be known that the majority doesn’t want to pay more taxes, and let my opponent know that he needs to explain to those people that the Town doesn’t pay for street lights in the neighborhoods, pot holes and road repairs because the County and DOT already tax you for that and it’s their responsibility. And we don’t need more police officers to patrol neighborhoods at night to protect unlocked cars.
It has also been said by many people, my opponents and other new candidates, how we need to have more events in Town, i.e. concerts in the park, etc. Which is fine, yet it costs money, and money we don’t have in our General Fund. Money has to come from somewhere which means more taxes. You can do a hospitality tax by adding a penny onto every $1 spent in a restaurant in Irmo, and it can be allocated towards tourism related events, i.e. concerts in the park and multiple other things like that. Every time we as a Council have discussed hospitality tax, and how to spend that money, we have never agreed. There has been some opposition from restaurants in regards to it, and I have been opposed to it unless we have a concise list of projects, events, etc., and a plan on what we are going to do with the money. If we have a great list, I think the public and restaurant industry would support it, if we don’t, they won’t. But if we want to have the concerts and events and all those wonderful things, they are services which cost money, that comes out of tax dollars, and that don’t grow on trees.
So we have the three questions for voters to speak on. You can vote as you like, but we do want to hear, and then maybe put these issues to rest, and move onto things we need to do, not just rehash the same old overdone, last year’s debates.
And by the way, I read Councilman Walker’s letter last week three times, still not 100% sure where he stands. But for me, my simple short response is …
“I am voting no to all three questions”.
Mayor of Irmo