Friday, January 10, 2014

Proposed Sales Tax Renewal & Increase

This past Tuesday the council committee again discussed the renewal of the "Parks & Pipes" sales tax, a new sales tax for pavement and at which election to present these items to the voters.

Jeff  "The Arrogant One" Vaught was pushing for:
1.  A continuation of the 1/8 % (0.125) Parks and Pipes sales tax
2.  A new 2/8% (.025) for pavement improvements
3.  Placing both items on a mail in ballot this spring, and as one question 

His attempts at bullying his fellow council members did not appear to work.  First, he is slowly taking over former council member Kuhn's proclivity for being a motormouth.  Second, for an individual who claims to want to see more civility, he has this unique ability to demean his fellow council members if they don't agree with him.  Additionally, he appears to have attempted to appoint himself as a leader on the council.  This seemed to backfire when he indicated that the council should be united in its support for these items and he then received a group blank stare. This man shows no leadership or motivational/inspirational qualities.  

This matter will now be presented at a future meeting of the council, as follows:

1.  A continuation of Parks & Pipes at 1/8% (0.125)
2.  A  new 1/8% (0.125) sales tax for pavement
3.  A spring mail in ballot.

All of the above is subject to change at the actual council meeting.  Vaught wants to combine the two taxes into one question on the ballot. He wants to piggyback the pavement tax on the Parks and Pipes because he feels that by itself the pavement tax won't pass.  The majority seems to want the items to be separate questions.

The cost of the pavement tax is a question.  The city manager is asking for the 2/8% (0.25) because of a budget shortfall.  Most of the council seems to think that is too much and that the 1/8% (0.125) would be more palatable.

There is really still a lot of division as to whether it should be a spring mail ballot (at a potential cost of $40K - $110K) as opposed to a November election with no cost to the city.  The council would consider the spring mail ballot with the money coming from the economic development fund.

My opinions on each item:

1.  Parks & Pipes sales tax:  continue this item, as it has shown to be beneficial for the city.

2.  Pavement sales tax:  I would support the 1/8% (0.125) but not 2/8% (0.25).  If this does not generate sufficient funds, then take some more out of the impact fee that Deffenbaugh pays to the city ($3 million).  Currently that is split 50/50 for roads and economic development.  Take another $1 million for the roads and apportion $500K for economic development.  Why wasn't a plan put into place for possible sales tax increases done earlier when we have these multi year projections, as opposed to this "it's got to be done now" approach.  A full public audit of how the eco development funds have been used would be appropriate.

3.  How many questions on the ballot:  Two, keep them separate

4.  When to have the vote:  November general election, as it provides for a larger turn out and at no cost to the city.  Those individuals wishing to advocate/educate for approval/disapproval of the sales taxes can form groups, raise funds, and state their positions pro or con. to the general public.

Sidebar:  The city had ETC institute conduct a survey on these issues last week.  Supposedly they had 2,500 frequent voters to contact and were able to establish contact with approximately 400.  I was one of the ones contacted.  When the survey taker and her supervisor were queried as to who was paying for the survey, they would not admit to it being the city.  A KORA request has shown that the city is paying $7,500 for the survey.  Comments made by various council members indicate that I was not the only person who ran into that situation.

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