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Mon, Feb. 24

Guest Column: Council on the wrong track with property tax
Issue reminiscent of city's $56M 'blank check' fiasco

The property tax fiasco that is presently being debated by our city leaders brings to mind another attempt to fleece the taxpaying public approximately 10 years ago by the mayor and the City Council. That group, led by infamous City Manager Paul Beecher, put a $56 million bond issue on the ballot that quickly became known as "The 56 Million Dollar Blank Check".

It was named that because the moneys derived from that bond issue had no designation and could be spent on anything the city leaders deemed necessary.

Needless to say, the bond issue was resoundingly voted down.

Today, we have a new version of "The Blank Check." It's called property tax.

The council held a workshop on Jan. 7 and discussed how to present the request to the taxpayers. Words like "sell" and "educate" were suggested but after nearly two hours of debate, the subject was closed without a decision. That's when Mayor Dick Anderson conducted his version of The Price Is Right, calling out numbers starting at 8 million and worked his way down to 4 million with no one willing to set an opening levy. If this wasn't our money they were bidding on, it would be a good TV comedy show.

The property tax is much more dangerous than the $56 million blank bond because once the taxpayers approve the property tax, it will live on in perpetuity and $56 million will look like chump change as the tax increases year over year. We are being sold on the premise that the moneys collected would be for "public safety" but it was revealed at the workshop that the collected money will actually go into the general fund and be dispensed at the discretion of the administration.

After seeing what happened to $1.1 million recently, one could only imagine what might happen with all the extra change in the coffers.

Over 25 percent of this city's population consists of retired folks living on fixed income and many are barely making ends meet at the end of each month.

Any increase in their cost of living could be crushing to their standard of living.

The same can be said for working couples who are earning wages barely above the poverty level.

The City Council would best serve the community by putting this proposal to rest and put their fiscal house in order. The money used to fund this special election in May can be better used to supplement the needs for public safety. This tax proposal would be DOA in May, and the repercussions will also be felt on the ballot in the November elections.

Tax and spend may be the way government works in Washington, D.C., mister mayor, but it doesn't fit in this community.

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