Letter: Editorial based on assumptions does not serve public interest
On Aug. 24, the Grand Rapids Business Journal issued an inaccurate, misleading editorial (“Kent County administrator’s request for tax increase should be scrubbed”) regarding the Kent County 2016 budget process and talk of a tax increase. I want to set the record straight.
The Aug. 18 budget work session was an opportunity for the Board of Commissioners to get a first look at the budget. The article written about the meeting, “County budget scrutiny begins,” by Pete Daly, makes no mention of a tax hike recommendation by county staff. While there was one commissioner who asked about the current tax charged versus the maximum allowed under Headlee, let me be clear: A room full of participants can verify that at no time did the County Administrator or county staff ever recommend a tax hike. It is unclear how such an inaccurate assumption could be made.
There are other misrepresentations in the editorial — the impact of property taxes, confusion and misdirection about health care costs — but what stands out to me is the very first assumption: that a tax hike was ever proposed for the 2016 budget. If this had been verified with a call to a board member or county staff (who have been very transparent and open with the media), it is likely there would have been no need for the finger-wagging and chastising in your editorial at all. This editorial was careless and sloppy.
This board and the county staff are dedicated to preparing and submitting a thoughtful, fiscally responsible budget that maintains critical services efficiently and effectively. The budget process is not completed in one meeting. It is a disservice to your readers to print assumptions and a mischaracterization of property values, taxes and the budget process.
Kent County Board of Commissioners