The Townsend Town Council got an earful at an Aug. 2 public hearing on a proposed ordinance to make residents pay for street lights.
As proposed, the ordinance would assess a fee as established by town council to pay for the existing street lights. The fee would be added to the trash bills.
Council didn’t vote on the ordinance based on the advice from the town attorney, who could not attend the public hearing.
At the hearing, attended by about 40 people, all of those speaking opposed the ordinance.
First to speak was Jonathan Bates, who lives in Townsend Village 1. He disagreed with the assertion that all property classes receive the same benefit from the street lights and should bear the same costs.
“The town is trying to preserve the perception that they aren’t raising taxes, but the fact of the matter is that no matter what you call it, we are collecting money from the residents to pay for a service provided by the town,” he said.
David Bailey, who lives behind the U.S. Post Office in Townsend, opposes the ordinance because he doesn’t want a uniform fee for all residents to pay for the street lights.
“All I want is for all the town people to be treated fairly,” Bailey said. “The people that have 30 street lights, one to three ratio, should pay their share. In the town, where our street lights are, [we should] pay our share. It’s fair. It’s equal.”
He also said, “I feel it’s a little bit of a biased because there’s not one person on that town council that is from old town. And it just bothers me.”
Council members didn’t comment much during the hearing. Mayor Rudy Sutton Jr. said he isn’t ready to speak on the issue. He has to take into consideration the comments at the hearing, he said.
So far, there hasn’t been an announcement on when town council will vote. But there’s a council workshop scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 23, starting at 7 p.m. in town hall.