A push over the looming federal fiscal cliff will put a great hardship on residents in smaller East Texas towns, especially those that have low income, city mayors said.
“In my opinion, (members of Congress) will come to some sort of agreement, (but) it may be in the 11th hour,” he said.
Whether they come to an agreement by the Dec. 31 deadline, he said it won’t impact city functions, but it will certainly affect residents who can’t afford to have their taxes go up.
“It’s really a matter of we’ve entrusted (federal leaders) to take care of what we have,” he said. “The idea is to find out what you need and spend on that and what you don’t need, don’t spend the money.”
Hogden encouraged residents to call their senator or congressman because, “They listen.”
“We’ve elected these people to take care of us. We need to tell them what we want them to do, and they need to advise,” he said.
Troup Mayor John Whitsell said he agreed that going over the fiscal cliff will impact the economy as a whole, which in turn affects residents.
He said Troup has a high population of lower-income residents, and any type of tax increase will have a negative impact for them.
Whitsell said the city also doesn’t receive a lot of sales tax revenue, and any tax burden that decreases spending will directly affect Troup’s budget.
For instance, he said the city applied for Homeland Security grants, which helped upgrade some infrastructure. He said he believes some generators the city received to keep the wastewater treatment plant going came from federal grant funds.
In Bullard, the budget is not dependent on federal money, Mayor Pam Frederick said.
“I don’t think directly the budget will be affected if we go (off the fiscal cliff). We’re confident in our conservative budget. … We’ve been proactive in planning for things (and) looking down the road,” she said.
She said the budget only might be affected if the entire economy shifts and interest rates don’t hold. That’s because the city is looking at things such as street construction, she said, and if the economy shifts and interest rates don’t stay low, Bullard will have to make decisions sooner than it might want to and pay more interest on borrowed money.
Mayor Frederick said Bullard residents also will be affected in their wallets so the city may see people buckling down on what they spend.
In the end, she said she hopes the government comes to a consensus and avoids going off the fiscal cliff.
“Looking down the road, we might want to apply for some federal funding, and even though we feel confident in our budget, we want success fiscally in our region, for all of us to be a positive,” she said. “We have a great fiscal picture in Bullard, but we’d like to see it in the surrounding communities as well.”
Managing Editor Brian Pearson contributed to this report.