Here’s one that will make any conservative smile. An Ohio town recently channeled the American revolutionaries and exercised the clause in the Declaration of Independence that gives the people permission to throw off a government that oversteps its bounds. Fortunately, they managed to do this without firing a single shot, unlike the American colonists.
The residents of Amelia, Ohio just voted to dissolve their city’s government and to disband the city. Why? Because of excessive taxation. The Founding Fathers would be proud.
But this vote did not come out of nowhere. The New York Times reported that the dismantling of the city was the result of a fiery year-long debate over taxation. “Many residents are reluctant to hand over any more of their paychecks to the government, even the one that picks up their leaves in the fall and plows snow from their streets through the winter,” they wrote.
The city’s residents are not exactly destitute, but they aren’t Scrooge McDuck either. The median income of the average resident is $61,500. But it appears that the city wished to keep more of their hard-earned money. “This all got way out of hand,” former Mayor Todd Hart told The New York Times. I bet it did, Todd.
The brouhaha began when the city council voted to impose a 1% income tax on residents without seeking their input on the matter. King George — I mean, the local government notified residents by sending them a letter after they had already made the decision. How considerate.
A 1% tax might seem like small potatoes, but there is more context that should be understood. Residents of the city already pay about $1,400 annually in state income taxes. They cough up about $780 each year in-state sales tax and $130 in local sales tax. All of this is washed down with a cold glass of property taxes that average about $3,300 per year. The new tax would have added a little over $600 each year.
In light of these numbers, it’s not hard to see why the residents of Amelia would lose their patience. “You have these different layers of taxation, and it is not always clear to individuals what they are getting for each layer they are paying,” said Greg R. Lawson, a research fellow at the Buckeye Institute to The New York Times. Former council member Renee Gerber echoed Lawson’s point, “I would think every American would say, ‘What am I getting?’” She was a vocal opponent of the new tax, and her protests got her arrested last year.
It’s a natural question. If you are already paying exorbitant taxes, it makes sense to know where the money is going, right? Well, apparently in one case, the city spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade city offices to a Victorian-style building. The mayor claimed that city employees were cramped while working in their old offices. Perhaps this is what Ms. Gerber meant when she said: “We don’t want our hard-working dollars to be misspent.”
Over time, the debate morphed into whether or not the town should even exist, which is far beyond the original conversation on who should be running it and the level of taxation that was acceptable. Now that Amelia is ceasing to exist, other townships will offer the services they were receiving previously. But The Times notes that some are concerned that “it could take the authorities longer to respond to drug overdoses or other emergencies.”
The decision of the residents of Amelia is one that is rare today. It seems almost unthinkable that a city would vote to dissolve their government much less dismantle their town. But it’s noteworthy that the spirit of small government and low taxes still exists in some corners of the country. Perhaps one day the American public might take Amelia’s example to heart when it comes to the federal government and its out-of-control spending. Yes, I know it’s not likely. But one can dream, right?
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section!
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