WTF, Chuck: Pay as You Go?

Note:  WTF, Chuck? is an ongoing series of articles in which staff writer, Chuck, replies to questions submitted by our readers.

A reader writes:

Dear Chuck,

WTF is this Pay as You Go program? Why do they want to raise my taxes so even more? Shouldn’t they use the high taxes I already pay to maintain the roads?

A Baldwin County Taxpayer

This is a great question, ABCT. From what I can tell, the County Commission wants to raise taxes to pay for what they should be paying for out of current tax dollars: roads.

The catchy name, “Pay as You Go,” is a great marketing tool. I mean, who wouldn’t agree with pay as you go? Right?

But the taxpayers are already paying as we go. Why can’t officials use the taxes we’re already paying to take care of the roads? Then have these PAYGO referendums to pay for the other programs they want? How about:

Better Roads for Baldwin County is a local political action committee that advocates for the PAYGO tax increase.

This site includes 10 Reasons to Vote Yes. To help you understand their 10 reasons, I’ve attempted to translate them:

1. This is a local program that features local control and local accountability.

Translated: Our local officials can’t properly manage the taxes we already pay, so they need this extra money just for roads.

2. This program is limited to four-years, after which time a new vote will be needed if the program is to continue.

Translated: You only have to pay this tax for 4 years. After that, we promise the roads will be in such great shape, no more money will be needed. Really.

3. Taxpayers will receive a significant return on their investment.

Translated: With better roads, your car will never break down, you’ll have more free time for your family and your property values will soar. Really.

4. The program will improve and enhance traffic safety.

Translated: You’ll be a safer driver. Really. This will improve it AND enhance it at the same time.

5. Transportation infrastructure improvements will support the continued economic development of the community.

Translated: With better roads, we’ll have more jobs. And not all of them will be due to people having to get second jobs to pay the ever increasing taxes.

6. Revenue generated by the measure will reduce the need for the county to borrow money for building and maintaining roads.

Translated: With PAYGO, we won’t need any additional revenue for roads for at least four years. Really.

7. City governments within Baldwin County will benefit.

Translated: Cities don’t have the money the fix their own roads so we’ll do it for them. This will free up some of your city taxes for other worthwhile initiatives such as forming new school systems, fighting for/against the triangle, banning smoking, creating dog parks, protecting trees, etc.

8. Improving north-south routes in Baldwin County is critically important.

Translated: Only losers go east or west.

9. The program will help pave dirt roads in the county that are expensive to maintain and difficult to drive.

Translated: Sure those people knew they’d be living on a dirt road when they bought their property but we’ll pave it for them anyway.

10. The Baldwin County referendum is modeled on the highly successful program in neighboring Mobile County.

Unable to translate. Doing anything like neighboring Mobile County just makes no sense.

So, this pay as you go plan is just another way to raise taxes so local government can continue to spend our money on whatever they want and come back for more taxes whenever they want.

Thanks for the question,


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