Your Opinion: Differing views on fire department sales tax

From Scott Spencer, Jefferson City

Dear Editor:

I want to clear up confusion and present the facts about Prop. 2.

• It was mentioned that the fire department received a 40 percent increase in their 2011 budget. As we have stated, in 2011 the fire department moved from the previous independent pension plan to the LAGERS that all other city employees are under. In 2011 our retirement was moved into our fire department budget which may have looked like an increase but was just an accounting issue of transferring the funds. No increase in operating budget.

• Businesses do not keep part of the sales tax just for collecting it. That’s false information.

• Others have mentioned the half-cent sales tax for the Cole County ambulance service. That sales tax is just that — a county ambulance tax. Those funds do not benefit the Jefferson City Fire Department in any way. Fifty-nine percent of our calls are medical calls, we do not transport and therefore do not receive income from insurance companies for this service.

• How does the plan affect low income earners? A quarter-cent sales tax will cost an average income earner making $47,000/ year with average spending and owning no property $29/year. Therefore lower income earners making half that amount and spending half that amount have a total cost of less than $20/year. The fire department services are also of more value to renters. Many do not have renters insurance and the better, faster, more equipped we are, the less likely they are to lose everything. Fixed income senior citizens in the city limits benefit from this plan. Their property is worth much more than they once paid but their spending is small. Many will actually end up paying less overall.

• This plan does not include any increases to firefighter salaries or retirement. Our only benefit from this plan is better training and equipment to keep us safer. The rest completely benefits the community.

• The campaign is not funded by the union. The firefighters and staff have a loan that they are paying back personally. Many local individuals and business owners have contributed to help cover the cost as well.

• Funding projects other than the fire department is not possible. Read the ballot language and Missouri state statute 321.242 which mandates that all revenues received be used solely for the operation of the fire department See our website at www.jcfirefighters.org for more information.

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From Donna Bentlage, Jefferson City:

Dear Editor:

Not another sales tax, please. The city needs to find another way to fund the fire department. No one in the county should be charged for this tax! Enough is enough of taxing the people.

Just look at the stagnant economy. The state workers have not had a raise in years, and most state agencies are cutting back. You need to listen up.

No new taxes and stop misleading voters about a 17 percent reduction in property taxes in the city.

And, to the county commissioners, you need to lose your jobs. The Eugene water district, Renn’s lake and now $300,000 for streetscaping Capitol Avenue. What are you thinking?

It tells me the half-cent sales tax was too much money, because it is being used foolishly. Stop it!

The city and county once again needs a reality check. They both need to know when to say when.

Vote no Aug. 7 on Prop. 2 and vote the commissioners out of their jobs.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to editor@newstribune.com

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