The Government Buffet

We've got a lot to talk about this week, Athens

Lots of stuff on the radar this week, townies. Let's break it down.

Denson's got a tax plan: I'm not automatically opposed to Mayor Nancy Denson's property tax scheme, as she pitched it last week. Essentially, if you're over 65, Denson wants to freeze your property taxes. So, if you're paying $1,500 in taxes, and two years down the road, your house and the ones around it triple in value, you're still paying $1,500 in taxes.

Not a bad idea -- a lot of senior citizens are living on a fixed income. Of course, a lot of them aren't. And, given the disgusting news that our poverty rate is even more out of hand, I'd submit that a lot of non-seniors are also living on a fixed income as well.

But, if you're not sure what to make of Denson's plan, here are two things you ought to think about. First, Athens-Clarke County is the smallest county in Georgia. Second, we also have one of the most disproportionate ratios of taxable land to non-taxable land around. Once you take out all the land owned by UGA, plus the stuff ACC owns, plus the churches and non-profit organizations, there's not a whole heckuva lot of property left to tax.

Now, with that in mind, and the fact that Denson and the Commission are talking about in spending over the next few years, you've got to ask yourself - is this a fiscally responsible idea?

Of course, we can always bump leaf and limb collections to a 52-week rotation. And really, who needs running water?

You're going to put what where? If you point your ears towards downtown and listen carefully, you can hear the sounds of hipsters' heads exploding. Why? They just read Kevan Williams' piece in Flagpole reporting the rumor that WalMart wants to build a store downtown.

What we're talking about here is the old Armstrong and Dobbs property, so not quite next door to , but not out in the 'burbs either. 

First of all, you've got to wonder -- would people be as upset as they are if it were, say, a Target? 

Lest we forget, not everyone who lives close to downtown is a bike-riding, skinny-jeans-wearing denizen of West Washington Street. A lot of the folks who comprise that 39% poverty rate live nearby as well, and they could do with somewhere inexpensive and close to buy their groceries and necessities.

And jobs. let's not forget jobs.

Still, don't count me on board the Walmart train yet, or perhaps ever. Why? Because, like most of us, I have a car and I sometimes need to go through downtown, for example, to get to the east side. Put a WalMart anywhere within shouting distance of downtown, and we can all look forward to spending some quality time with our fellow motorists.

I know, because common sense tells us, that the existing surface streets can't handle the influx of WalMart traffic, and I'm not convinced that there's any kind of new (and affordable) infrastructure we could create.

Still, we've got an abyssmal poverty rate in this town, and unemployment isn't getting much, if any, better. So, as a community, let's remember that sometimes, beggars can't be choosers.

Insert gratutitous REM-song-title-pun here: I'm a little surprised by some the reactions going around about the . While I expected a significant amount of garment-rending and breast-beating, the tone so far seems to be a collective "Meh."

I'm a fan, and unashamed to admit it. Got most of the their records, and whether they're still a band or not, the CDs seem to sound the same. All good things must come to an end.

And finally: Congratulations to two of the finest people I know, Blake Aued and Merritt Melancon of the Athens-Banner Herald. Those two crazy kids tied the knot down in Savannah this weekend. The service was lovely, and the reception was a hoot and a half. Here's to a lifetime of happiness for two good friends.

And even more congratulations to Flagpole's Dave Marr and his wife Krista. The two welcomed the world's newest Marr, Sally, a few weeks back. As a musician and newspaper reporter, Dave is probably well-suited to the late nights that (sources tell me) come with being a dad.


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