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Some helpful advice for Milton government

February 15, 2007
Similar to Parkinson's Law in business, I've found government expands to spend the tax dollars it's allotted.

As our fledging city of Milton begins its bright future, I have a few words of heartfelt advice.

1. Avoid drinking the tax-and-spend Kool-Aid. Without raising taxes, city hall's front doors will still swing open and the police can continue to catch the bad guys.

On the other hand, the $18,000 tab at taxpayers' expense for January's celebratory cityhood party doesn't cut it for fiscal restraint. The next time the city throws a good party, how about taking donations to pay for it?

2. Consider ditching the taxpayer-funded PR spinmeister. Fulton County's fat PR department can't make it look good no matter how hard it tries. Milton can achieve good government without the spin.

3. Seek first to understand. With 35 percent more tax revenue to spend in northwest Fulton than prior to cityhood, the sky is not falling when it comes to Milton's budget.

In contrast to Milton, neighboring Woodstock has the same population, a 15 percent smaller annual budget, a 30 percent higher property tax rate (which compensates for a considerably lower tax digest) and double the police officers. Most Georgia cities have fewer tax dollars per capita to spend than Milton because most cities' tax digests aren't comprised of as many million dollar homes.

Expand your field of vision outside of Fulton County, including private enterprise, to learn about limited, effective government that does only a few things, but very well.

Finally, I wish the Milton City Council the very best as it leads residents along the path of self-governance. They're getting their sea legs and working hard to make us proud.

And I encourage Milton citizens to appreciate the council's efforts and time in public service. Democracy can be messy and imperfect, but it's always superior to the alternative because citizens can make a difference.

My dream of independent cityhood for northwest Fulton residents has been realized, and now 20,000 people own it. Looking ahead, join me in the quest to bring county government closer to residents by re-creating Milton County. Together we can re-invent government so it remembers the People are both its owners and customers.

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