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To Fellow Elected Officials of Liberty County,

It is my honor and privilege to serve alongside you as a public servant in my capacity as a member of Liberty’s City Council. As elected officials, we have been given the sacred charge of being stewards of the precious resources granted to us by hard working taxpayers, and to utilize those resources for enhancing our communities and protecting the liberties of our constituents. Thank you for your willingness to step into this role and for your diligent public service.

As a candidate for office and more recently as a councilman, I have had numerous conversations with constituents about their many issues with local government. One of the most frequent concerns I’ve heard surrounds tax rates. As you know, property taxes have soared and appraisals are seemingly out of control. Our constituents are fearful that high property appraisals will continue to result in even higher tax bills. Some have already been forced out of business and even out of their homes.

As a local property owner, you know the burden of high taxes yourself. If property taxes weren’t enough to worry about, we are also facing soaring prices in the grocery store and at the pump. We can’t do much about the supply chain or crippling infl ation, but we do have an obligation to fight increases and even abolish taxes wherever we are able to. It’s always great when we can get more bang for our constituents’ buck, but well-paid administrators, fancy public buildings, and lush amenities don’t clothe and feed our children or pay our medical bills.

Our constituents know that as their elected representatives, it is our responsibility to determine how much our respective entities will spend and to set the tax rates that will generate much of the revenue to fund that spending. To that end, I am confident that each of us is currently neck deep in this arduous and complex budgeting process and that we are all taking the increased appraisal values into account as we seek to set (and hopefully lower) our tax rate. Moreso, I hope we each remember that any tax rate we set that is higher than the “no-new-revenue” rate amounts to a tax increase. Ultimately, it is not enough that our tax rate is just lower than last year’s. We must do whatever it takes to keep more of our constituents’ money in their pockets.

I recognize that this seemingly impossible challenge of reducing revenue comes while we are also facing skyrocketing operating costs. If these were our household budgets, we’d move Heaven and Earth to make the numbers work. We should be just as radically devoted to fiscal restraint as we steward other peoples’ money.

Our constituents are suffering. They are in need of immediate relief. The property tax system is broken and maybe one day our State Legislature will get around to working on that. But today, we public servants are in the sole and unique position to grant the relief our neighbors need and I hope we will all be willing to do whatever it takes to serve them well.

For Liberty,

- City Councilman Tommy Brents