Back in 1962 Bob Dylan wrote: "Now it don't seem to me quite so funny/What some people are gonna do for money/ There's a brand new gimmick everyday/ Just to take our money away."
How is it that a conservative Republican dominated organization such as the Chamber of Commerce is getting the ball rolling on a significant new regressive sales tax for the rest of us to pay for up to 10 years?
Normally, business-oriented groups are loath to propose, let alone vote for, any new tax. But it seems that if a new tax benefits a few elite businessmen, then all the usual reluctance to increase taxes is thrown to the wind in favor of enriching this elite group. At a time when many residents are struggling just to make their house payments, the Chamber of Commerce proposes new taxes, and a regressive sales tax at that. If Congress did these, these same people would be using words like "socialistic" and would be criticizing "big spenders."
If these projects are so important to our city, why can't the Chamber of Commerce fine a private developer to step forward and take them on at no public expense or tax increase? Why doesn't the Chamber fund them with pledges from its own members? I'll tell you why - a big chunk of this new sales tax will be used to complete the funding of the poorly conceived convention center where, when it loses money, the taxpayers are already on the hook for the whole loss.
The Chamber of Commerce is putting the financial standing of the entire city at risk by asking that the city issue bonds so that the Chamber can spend all the money right away. Bonds should never be issued merely to fund one group's pet projects. These are financially tough times. The city doesn't need more debt. Very few permanent jobs will be created by this fiasco. There will be no accountability because the tax will be administered by an unelected board. You can be sure this board will be controlled by the Chamber of Commerce.
I'll bet the election to create this tax will be another single issue February election, thus guaranteeing its passage. Working people are often too busy to keep track of and to drive to the polls to fight these sorts of schemes. And the powers that be in our city know that.
We are taxed enough. Vote no.