No one is happy about the 2% hospitality tax the Town of Lexington is proposing to pay for necessary intersection improvements. Citizens aren’t happy, some businesses aren’t happy and the Town Council isn’t happy. The Council, at least, is being adult in its presentation of the issue. That can’t be said for the opposition.
At yesterday’s Town Council meeting, several citizens joined Councilman Ted Stambolitis in voicing their disfavor. Stambolitis is the only member of the Council not voting to enact the tax. More on him will come in a later post. This writer spoke, not so much in favor of the tax, but in favor of the plan as the only means by which a critical problem can be addressed. That position isn’t the only thing that separated me from the other citizen speakers. Most of those opposing – and they opposed everything about the plan – are not even citizens of the Town of Lexington. Why does that matter?
As I said from the podium, in the debate this past session in the General Assembly concerning an increased gas tax, South Carolinians would not have appreciated people from North Carolina or Virginia or New York making demands about out tax system. This is no different. The Town is trying to upgrade intersections that are used by far many more people than live within town limits. They want Lexington’s roadways optimized for their use, but they don’t want to have to pay for it.
That’s hardly the whole of it. There is an organization that calls itself the Lexington County Citizen’s Watch that is campaigning against the hospitality tax. That’s OK, except…
The LCCW is run by Mr. Talbert Black – again, not a resident of the Town of Lexington. Today (Tuesday), the Watch posted an item on Facebook that was as misleading as it is cowardly. The post highlighted two council members, Kathy Manness and Hazel Livingston (also Mayor pro tem) with their phone numbers and email addresses. That, too is OK. All of that is publicly available on the town website.
What is so … dirty about the post is that LCCW mocked these two council members because they “Said they were voting for the tax to ‘keep us safe.'”
Taxes pay for our military, our police, our fire fighters and scores of other entities that “keep us safe.” More efficient traffic flow makes it much easier for emergency services and first responders to get to and from catastrophes, accident scenes, fires and medical calamities. Traffic issues ARE safety issues. That cannot be denied by reasonable, logical thinking adults. Which, I guess, is why it eludes the folks at LCCW.
Here, though, is the cowardly part. All of the council members voting for the tax have noted that safety is a concern, a major concern. Yet, LCCW chose not to identify the other four, all men, but just the women. Nor did they call out Mr. Britt Poole, the Town Administrator who also cites safety as a reason to upgrade.
Do these folks think they are going to intimidate Ms. Manness or Ms. Livingston because they are women? Ms. Manness I do not know, Ms. Livingston I do. Here’s a tip to LCCW: Don’t piss off Hazel Livingston. Seriously … don’t piss her off. This isn’t to suggest she is vengeful, it’s just to point out that she isn’t gonna take your crap.
As for Council Member Stambolitis, I recommend the LCCW and citizens who are looking to him as their anti-tax champion; look elsewhere. He isn’t what you think.
More on that later.