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Council failed to hold the line



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May 26, 2010 - This editorial was all set to be a piece lavishly praising the Oxford Village Council for holding the line and maintaining a tax rate of 10.12 mills for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

But instead it became an editorial chastising the council for increasing its tax rate by a half-mill.

Granted, over the last few months, council has been working very diligently to cut the village budget without diminishing services. Officials deserve to be commended for all of their hard work and long hours.

Budgetary fat has been trimmed yielding leaner expenditures. Some employees have agreed to pay cuts and increased contributions toward health and retirement benefits.

But frankly, the employee cuts were not deep enough. Case in point, the employee contribution toward health insurance.

With the exception of village Manager Joe Young, who voluntarily raised his health insurance payment from $10 to $125 per month, all the other full-time employees – both union and non-union – agreed to increase their monthly payment from $10 to $25. Not only is that increase insulting, it's a joke – and a bad one at that.

Agreeing to pay $15 more for health insurance you currently pay next to nothing for is by no means a sacrifice. It amounts to loose change under the sofa cushions.

The fact that the village's unionized DPW and police employees agreed to a wage freeze for the next two years – forgoing the 2 percent raises built into their current contracts – is also quite preposterous.

Most everybody's taking pay cuts these days in both the private and public sectors. For the DPW and police unions to not agree to a pay cut – even a modest 2 or 3 percent – is just plain wrong.

As residents struggle to pay mortgage bills, grocery bills, utility bills, insurance bills, credit card bills, car loans, college loans and other expenses, they don't need a tax increase on top of it all. They don't need another economic hardship, another burden to carry on the road to the poorhouse.

And yes, this is most definitely a tax increase, no matter what kind of funny math you use to justify it.

Why? Because property values have gone down considerably and fact is, if the 10.12-mill rate had been levied again, village property owners would have paid less in taxes. It stands to reason that if your property's worth less, you should pay a proportionately lesser amount in taxes.

Any millage rate that results in someone paying more money than they would have if the 10.12-mill rate had been levied again is a tax increase – no ifs, ands or buts.

By raising property taxes, council has burdened residents at the worst time imaginable.

What a severe disappointment. – CJC

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