From today's Gazette article:
Sales Tax Ballot Committee Favors 10-year Sunset
"The sales tax ballot committee is coming closer to drafting language for the upcoming election concerning the renewal of the city sales tax.
The McCook City Council appeared enthusiastic about the committee's proposal to have the ballot include extending the one-cent tax to 10 years with a sunset at the end of that period.
Councilman Kircher also asked if the ballot committee had discussed language concerning raising the sales tax another .5 percent from its current one percent."
Did everyone get that? Not only does the sales tax ballot committee want us to vote to renew the one-cent sales tax, they want to raise it another .5 percent, making our new sales tax seven percent. Now, before we all start rubbing our hands together at the idea of how we're going to spend all that extra tax revenue, here are a few things to consider:
1. I'm going to quote former gubernatorial candidate Dave Nabity: "We cannot tax our people into prosperity." We have many wonderful businesses in our town, and I've spoken with people from Holdrege who said they love Norris Street shopping. But many small towns are just as close or closer to Kearney. A higher sales tax risks chasing away business.
2. Our current sales tax is 6.5%. Omaha's sales tax is 7%, but Omaha has more to maintain. When I lived in Forth Worth, TX the sales tax was 8.5%, but there is no state income tax in Texas. How does our sales tax compare to other towns about the same size as ours?
3. How much of that one-cent sales tax goes to pay for all those large signs around town that say things like, "J Street Improvements made possible by your one-cent sales tax."? I'm being facetious here, but I can't help thinking those signs might be evidence of some other poor budgetary decisions.
4. The theory in McCook was that the one-cent sales tax was to give us some property tax relief. Great theory, but most people I know had valuations that went up. My recent escrow statement for our home mortgage showed a projected shortage, which means our new mortgage payment will go up. Hmmm…good thing we've had that one-cent sales tax to help us out with our property taxes!
5. Here's another tidbit from the article: "Although one fourth of the .5 percent would go to economic development, Kircher questioned where the rest be spent." Where the rest would be spent--in deed, but also HOW is one fourth of that .5 percent going to economic development? I want an actual plan, here. Are they going to make loans or grants available for small businesses? Are they going to offer tax breaks for larger companies to come to McCook, making more jobs available here? Don't give me promises; give me a plan.
We had a great discussion on books last week, so friendly readers, let's hear your two cents (or 1.5 cents) on the sales tax debate.