Guest Editorial: Raising Sales Taxes Is Not The Best Option

By Virginia Korte

Last night the majority of the City Council voted to place a proposal to increase the city’s sales tax rate on this November’s ballot.  Four councilmembers approved it, thinking it will be a way to resolve the cost of the serious need to repair the city’s deteriorating infrastructure.

I opposed the move for several reasons, including the fact that raising the sales tax is neither fiscally responsible nor fulfilling our fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers.

I believe using general obligation bonds paid by property taxes is the most transparent and financially realistic way to begin addressing the $350 million the city desperately needs for capital improvements.

The sales tax proposal, which would raise the rate by 0.10%, is estimated to only generate $10 million a year. The proposal focuses on transportation issues and is vague about how, if at all, the city will address the millions of dollars needed for all the other necessary projects.  In addition, raising the sales tax rate is especially punitive to our citizens on low and fixed incomes.

The sales tax fluctuates with the ups and downs of the economy.  That makes the long-range financial planning process unpredictable, and almost impossible.  The city is just now collecting, 11 years later, retail sales taxes equal to those collected prior to the Great Recession.

Increasing the sales tax rate is only a political placebo.  Citizens deserve the truth.  The city needs a vision and the leadership to create a long-range plan in which our capital improvement projects can be better managed and solved.

I would appreciate hearing your opinions on this critical issue.

Sincerely,

Virginia L. Korte