Pushing the sales tax in Columbia over 8% a bad idea in a troubled economy
By Mark Flakne

COLUMBIA, 3/19/13 (Op Ed) -- Please VOTE "NO" on Proposition #1 (the 911 tax) April 2nd.

There is little doubt that the Boone County Emergency Management and Joint Communications 911 system faces serious operational challenges and difficulties. Something should be done to address its problems, but a tax hike to fund an exorbitant, unaccountable budget is not the correct approach.
This proposed increase will push the sales tax rate in many local stores to over 8 percent. A tax increase on basic goods is ill-conceived, especially when many families are struggling to survive in a troubled economy. And in this case, the proposed tax hike is nothing more than a taxpayer bailout for elected leaders who have misspent our hard-earned tax dollars.

We citizens are already paying enough to fund emergency operations, but decades of financial mismanagement have squandered our funds. Our elected officials have neglected fundamental emergency services in favor of more glamorous objectives aimed at making headlines rather than providing safety.

The proposed 911 tax will more than triple the current annual emergency management budget, from $2.7 million to $8.7 million. It will also concentrate $20 million in the hands of just three county commissioners during the first year alone. No guarantees and few details have been released about a planned $11.3 million building; the $20 million lump sum; or the $8.7 million annual budget.
It is wrongheaded to take extra funds from citizens and pay them to a county government with limited representation; few firm plans; no accountability; and no guarantee that current elected officials and appointed bureaucrats will be better stewards of the money.
We demand that politicians find a way to adequately fund and manage our 911 services without further burdening the hardworking taxpayers of Boone County.
We demand that our elected officials examine their spending priorities and work within their existing means.
Mark Flakne is the director of Keep Columbia Free.