We Jefferson City taxpayers are being asked to impose another one-half percent sales tax on ourselves to fund Chamber of Commerce dreams. If passed, our tax rate will be 8.225 percent or 9.225 percent if you shop at the east side Walmart.
This is higher than Cape Girardeau, St. Joseph, Springfield, Independence, Joplin and almost 1 percent higher than Columbia.
Expenditure of the tax dollars would be controlled by a fivemember board of appointees - three city, one county and one school board member. None can be elected official. They will not answer to the voters.
Similarly, the hotel tax we voters authorized goes to non-elected officials of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Why must our elected officials give away control of our tax dollars?
The list of projects reads like dreams of elected officials that want to create a legacy at taxpayer expense. The tax would raise around $50 million over 10 years to be used to pay for $41 million in projects.
Where is the integrity of our elected officials? They told us the hotel tax would pay for a conference center and now want another $10 million from this tax to build the conference center. If this was such a good project, we would see private investment instead of having to pay a private investor to participate.
About $8 million will be spent on the old St. Mary's building which the city doesn't even own. Another $7.5 million will be spent on the old penitentiary - again property the city does not own. The worst part of this plan; $7 million will be wasted on the bonding process so funds spent right away instead of spending as the tax is collected over 10 years. An additional $2 million will be set aside for unknown use. The rest of the funds, about $15.5 million, will go mainly for downtown projects.
Why raise taxes in trying economic times to fund these projects and why give our funds to entities that aren't accountable to the taxpayer? Taxation does not spur economic development or the economy. Our elected officials need to represent the best interests of constituents by spending tax dollars as if they were spending their own money.
As our forefathers did; tell our elected officials you don't want taxation without representation.
I urge you to vote no on that obscure election day of Feb. 7.