Around town I’ve been seeing flyers and signs for quite awhile saying the above, with “vote YES on Feb 7th”. At the grocery store, in the parking lots of various banks, restaurants, etc. There were even some in the local brewpub. I asked the guy at the bar about it, in between swigs of a rather damn good rye IPA, and he mentioned they supported it because of funding for a downtown trolley. Not much more detail, but it’s not exactly a shock that a bar would heartily approve of something that translates to more people being able to come there without driving, y’know? I just had to find out more about this.
Here’s the gist: the “yes” vote would increase the city sales tax by a half-percent (it is currently 7.75%…) over the next ten years. The funds from that are supposed to go towards a series of projects (here‘s a list of the projects on the site of the ones promoting this) determined by the city council and an “Economic Development Tax Board”.
Total projected cost: $40,000,000. Now what I have to say about it:
- My primary concern is the funding of it. Why a sales tax? Frankly I wonder what the hell has been done with the money they’re already getting from the current rate. For the amount I get smacked every time I replenish my fridge, I would have expected more improvement than I’ve seen.
- This sounds like the local scale version of a stimulus plan, the idea being (as with the state and federal level) that since people aren’t consuming as much as they were, government must fill the void. Clearly this ignores reasons why people aren’t consuming (…lack of money, anyone? Bueller?), and on the local level due to the aforementioned funding mechanism directly makes what people are already buying more expensive.
- The main backers of the plan (who also would be part of the “Economic Development Tax Board”) are the local Board of Realtors & Chamber of Commerce. So, whose issues do you think would be dealt with first? The structure of this, even if there are projects that you think would be useful, makes the transparency questionable. I imagine people voting for what they think is a simple infrastructure upgrade and ending up with an open-ended business handout.
- Just how “temporary” is a tax, ever, in practice?
I read some letters to the editor that were in the paper about this. Some of them characterized Jefferson City as a “sleepy, government town stuck in the 50’s”. First of all, yes it is a relatively small town for a state capital, but anyone going on the “stuck in the 50’s” line I humbly invite to spend some time here. I am not liable in the event that you claw your eyes out. Second…have you thought through the logic of citing such as a complaint when your response is a government-business partnership and higher taxes?
Though there are a few things mentioned that could be positive detached from the concept as a whole, the funding idea is ridiculous and the planning can’t be trusted. Mark me down as a No.
So…who’s surprised I brought up a local issue here?