By Mary Hussmann and Linda Green
Say “No” to Boone County Proposition 1 on April 2. A defeat would be a victory for most Boone County families and send the message that we rely too much on this type of inequitable taxation.
GRO (Grass Roots Organizing) generally opposes sales taxes because they are regressive—easy for the wealthy to pay, but hard on the middle-class, working poor, the unemployed, the disabled and elderly persons on fixed incomes. It's an issue impacting cities and counties all around Missouri.
For minimum wage workers making $7.35/hr., high sales taxes impact their ability to survive. But for a person earning $100,000/yr. or more, sales taxes don’t affect basic needs nearly as much.
City and county sales taxes, despite GRO’s past requests to exclude them, include food and medicine. State of Missouri sales taxes are not as unjust because GRO joined with organizations years ago to exclude them from food and medicine.
Beyond the regressive nature of sales taxes, there are other reasons to vote “No” on Boone County Proposition 1. Consider these unanswered questions.
1. Does Boone County need this much money to provide 911 services?
The current annual 911 budget is about $2.5 million dollars.
BUT, the sales tax money would give Boone County $9 million/yr.! Some additional funding could give the public a new building and upgrades and, hopefully, improve the 911 system. But why would $9 million be required when we currently pay less than $2.5 million?
2. Where is the accountability?
The County has been unclear how this enormous amount of money would be spent.
Current 911 workers would no longer have jobs with the city. They have been told they’ll have jobs with the county, but not if they would have comparable hours, salaries/wages or benefits.
There are no concrete plans to give us back current city and county tax money already dedicated for 911 service. Are the city and county just planning to keep those millions of dollars?
People have not been given any guarantees that 911 calls would be answered more quickly or that all this money would get emergency service to us in shorter time.
In a Columbia Missourian article, Columbia city manager Mike Matthes said, “You have to take it on trust....We’re not going to drop the baton as we hand it off.”
His words are not reassuring.
3. Aren’t sales taxes already too high?
The Boone County mental health care sales tax passed in November of 2012 ‘kicks in’ this April. It will add to already high sales taxes in downtown Columbia’s Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) and twelve Transportation Development Districts (TDDs), which help developers finance shopping malls.
The upcoming sales tax proposal is unfair, excessive, leaves many questions unanswered, and makes an already-too-high sales tax even higher.
Vote NO on the Boone County Proposition 1 sales tax on Tuesday, April 2, 2013!