We continue our look at how the Tampa City Council Chairwoman Gwen Miller answered questions at the recent taping for the League of Women Voters candidate debate. Our next question was posed by one of her challengers, Denise Chavez, and asked why the City Council waited so long to cut property taxes last year. Miller's answer:
âCity Council didnât wait to roll back the taxes. City Council has been planning for many years to see how we could roll it back. And it wasnât just this time that they just jumped out there and did it. City Council was planning to do things to help the community because this was what the people of the city of Tampa wanted. This was the time for it to be done, and they did not just jump out. We know what people want because they talk to us, they ask us questions, they ask us when to do it, and this was the time that was the right time to do it.â
For the record: Miller voted against scheduling a discussion of a tax rate decrease on June 15, 2006 (see item 9 on the action agenda linked above), after Councilman Shawn Harrison proposed putting it on the agenda for the council's budget sessions. Miller was out of the country (on a taxpayer-funded trip to Spain) when the Council weeks later voted 4-2 for the first tax rate decrease in 20 years. She did vote to approve the final budget two weeks after that, upon her return.
The closed-caption transcript of the June 15 meeting quotes Miller as justifying her no vote as follows:
14:30:09 >>GWEN MILLER: Mr. Dingfelder, you will see if she can
14:30:14 cut the water department or fire department.
14:30:16 I don't want to take away from those departments.
14:30:20 I saw a lady saying no wake zone, she had so much
14:30:23 water, she had a sign that said no wake zone.
14:30:26 You know how we need to repair our water situation.
14:30:31 I can't see money taking from that.
14:30:32 It's going to hurt the citizens either way you go.
14:30:39 I just can't agree with that.
14:30:41 Because I know I want things good for the city.
14:30:43 We have been working on the city trying to make it
14:30:45 better for a long time.
14:30:46 And now we are going to take money away from the city?
14:30:50 And we'll be putting money in the pocket trying to
14:30:53 help them but hurting them another way.
14:30:55 I don't see how it's going to help.
14:30:57 So I won't be supporting it either.
Full transcript here.
(In the interest of full disclosure, in my previous career as a
political consultant I ran a campaign against Miller's husband,
then-Sen. Les Miller.)