The following are questions from readers gathered from the News Tribune website, Facebook page and e-mails for the group opposing the Jefferson City Transformation sales tax, Citizens for Fair Tax.
Responding to the questions on behalf of the group is Ed Williams.
"I'd be interested in knowing what the opposition is specifically opposing - the sales tax increase to above 8 percent or certain pieces of the Transformation plan?"
Transformation has multiple flaws, including that proponents can't guarantee that the convention center would pay for itself. No municipal-owned convention center in the country has paid for itself. Last week's debate column admitted as much, but they hope that increased revenues from motels and restaurants would make up the difference. Using more than $10 million of taxpayers' hardearned money on a speculative venture is risky and unwise. Some of the projects could have merit, especially if financed with private funds. An attempt by the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce to spend $25,000 to increase traffic in Capital Mall is downright humorous. The owner of the mall is General Growth Properties, who own 136 malls around the country. The chamber could not tell GGP anything about running a mall. The City Council could have allocated the money to each project as needed, instead of requiring $41 million for both good and bad projects.
"I would like to hear from the opponents their thoughts on the future of Jefferson City if this is not enacted. Do they care about the future of the city or are they only concerned about it today? Do they want Jefferson City to grow and become a more viable city or do they want it to remain the same as it is today? If they are not interested in growth, why not?"
We are concerned about the future. Otherwise, we would not be actively opposing Transformation. Recently, a friend of mine had a casual conversation with two college students in Columbia. He asked if a convention center, MSP preservation or improvements to LU would bring them to Jefferson City from Columbia or their hometown of Kansas City. The answer was, "NO." When asked what would, they replied, "jobs." It is naive to believe that Transformation would bring high-income people to Jefferson City. Jefferson City has changed in the last 30 years I have lived here and will continue to change. We should use our resources wisely and not spend tax money on risky projects that will not improve our city and be a drag on future spending and growth. Transformation is poorly planned, an attempt to trick citizens into spending a lot of money under the guise of economic development without realizing the real needs of the future.