You should be concerned. The actual city government and Chamber of Commerce in your community thinks that a tax increase will encourage new businesses to move here. I keep thinking there is going to be a punch line to this horrible joke, but it appears these people are serious. So, since they are apparently serious, I think it's probably time for us to look at this seriously too. I'm not sure if these folks understand what economic development is. If they do understand, they are throwing the term around pretty loosely.
If you were a business owner and were looking for a place to start a business or move your current business, which of the following would consider?
• What is the condition of the local hundred year old unused penitentiary?
• How does the historic downtown area look?
• What is the tax rate?
It doesn't take an MBA to figure this one out. Businesses look at financials, not how aesthetically pleasing a location is. Businesses look at tax rates, not how big of a conference they can hold at a local hotel.
What they are saying is that "This tax increase is in no way going to affect you and the entire city is going to be revitalized" If they were being honest about it, this wouldn't be so frustrating, but they aren't. Despite what they'll tell you, there is a downside to this. A new tax on a citizen and a business is never going to be good for the citizen or the business paying the tax.
Regarding the conference center I found the following in the Wall Street Journal (12/31/11 edition): "Governments refuse to stop making convention centers bigger arguing that whatever business remains will flow to the places with the fanciest amenities. To finance these risky projects - which the private sector won't build by itself - cities float debt backed by new taxes and fees on already struggling taxpayers." And "This is little more than a convenient way to ignore the failure of these publicly sponsored facilities to live up to exaggerated projections." But as far as city officials are concerned, that failure is nothing that hundreds of millions more in taxpayer dollars can't fix.
Oh, and this tax will go away in 10 years. Sure it will, because that's what always happens with these things. The supporters of this better hope for a cold rainy day Feb. 7 with a very low turnout (and I'm sure you didn't intentionally put this on a February ballot), because a majority of our citizens would never vote for something like this.