Antonia Fire Wants Big Tax Hike but Fails on Transparency

31 Mar

The Antonia Fire District asked for a 50-cent per $100 assessed valuation tax increase in November, which was rejected by a 56-44% vote. Now they are back, asking for a lesser, 35-cent increase on the April 3 ballot. However, while the district is eager to ask for more of your money, its leadership is not eager to share what it does with it.

Here is the page on the Antonia Fire website devoted to board meeting agendas:

antonia web agenda page

Yup, empty. Here is the board meeting minutes page:

antonia web minutes page

Just one entry, from two-and-a-half years ago, presumably chosen to make them look good.

Furthermore, there is no budget page on the site. I know from a Leader article on the tax hike that the district’s current budget is $2.65 million, but that’s all the information I have. I did find that if you use a little Google-fu you can find some old meeting minutes from 2013-14:

antonia google

So these minutes are still uploaded to the site, but no longer featured on the minutes page. Why take them off, and why stop uploading new ones?

Rock Ambulance has some of this information on its site, for comparison.

No Sunshine on the Budget

The district does no better in responding to Sunshine Act requests for copies of the budget. If you request a few years’ worth of budgets, you won’t get them unless you pay money (about $25). That’s not a huge amount, but this information should be on the website, free for all to see. Furthermore, the district might slow-roll your request until after the election. It should literally take the district 20 seconds to attach some files from a folder onto an email and hit send to fulfill such a request.

I feel that, if this district wants more money, its leaders should be transparent about what they are doing and how they are spending. If they aren’t, we should vote no.

As an aside, I would also compare this 35-cent tax request to the Sheriff’s Department 35-cent tax request that will also be on the ballot. Which is needed more?

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2 Responses to “Antonia Fire Wants Big Tax Hike but Fails on Transparency”

  1. Jim Akers March 31, 2018 at 9:47 am #

    Full transparency is a problem everywhere in Jefferson County. Towns, schools, fire and ambulance districts etc. It is not uniqui to any one entity. Check your ballot carefully before voting for any one person or proposal.

    Like

  2. George Thompson March 31, 2018 at 10:58 am #

    Because my assessed valuation for real estate seems to always increase which means all those benefitting from a tax based on this growing amount will get more money from their current tax assessment (simple math 2% of $1 is greater than 1% of $1), I always vote no on any tax increase tied to my assessed valuation on my home. Property tax is different since it is tied to the value of my cars. The big bite occurs when I have to pay the sales tax when I first register a car. At least as the car ages, its assessed valuation decreases. But the taxes will average out in the end. I will vote against an increase in these taxes also. As a senior citizen on a fixed income every tax increase means I must make do with less. If I must live within my means, then so should all those begging for a larger piece of my pie. Not only do I always vote against any and all tax increases, but I look most unfavorably upon those claiming they need more and more and more forever.

    Like

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