Letter to the editor: Council is right in seeking funds from city sales taxSteal, rob, abscond, grand theft, money grab … words that Jamestown/ Stutsman Development Corp. Board member Dick Geigle, speaking on behalf of the JSDC, used to deride Mayor Clarice Liechty and three Jamestown City Council members in The Jamestown Sun and on a radio interview regarding their decision to utilize half of the 1 percent city sales tax for city infrastructure.
By: Dean P. Remboldt, The Jamestown Sun
Steal, rob, abscond, grand theft, money grab … words that Jamestown/ Stutsman Development Corp. Board member Dick Geigle, speaking on behalf of the JSDC, used to deride Mayor Clarice Liechty and three Jamestown City Council members in The Jamestown Sun and on a radio interview regarding their decision to utilize half of the 1 percent city sales tax for city infrastructure.
Again, the JSDC members should be ashamed of themselves for treating the City Council to another eruption of repulsive rancor, using words that are used to describe a crime and infer that our elected officials committed a criminal act.
The 2009 flood reminded us of the frail condition of our infrastructure. Fortunately, state Health Department officials allowed us to dump our raw sewage into the James River, possibly averting a complete shutdown of our sewage system. Many people could have been displaced and businesses shuttered for many days.
The financial burden to our citizens and business owners would have been devastating. Many may have never recovered the loss of income and wages. The state Health Department said that this was a one-time situation; if we were to dump raw sewage into the river again we would possibly face some steep fines (up to $8 million for an event comparable to last year’s flood).
Last August a group of citizens presented an informal petition signed by 1,100 citizens that clearly stated that the City Council should take whatever means necessary to utilize up to half of our 1 percent city sales tax to help alleviate the financial burden associated with fixing our obvious infrastructure problems in a city that has some of the highest property tax rates in the state.
The City Council formed a subcommittee (including three from JSDC) to find a way to fund our infrastructure needs, including the possibility of using part of the 1 percent city sales tax. City Administrator Jeff Fuchs came up with a fair and equitable plan that not only takes care of our infrastructure needs but also lessens the tax burden for future projects. The full JSDC board rejected the negotiated 30 percent plan and offered a lesser plan. The council then voted to use half of the 1 percent city sales tax for city infrastructure — prompting the JSDC rancor.
Although I was originally not opposed to a public vote on this matter, I personally will not be signing any petition that would change the council’s decision. The JSDC has dragged this process out long enough (seven months), and the public has had numerous opportunities to respond at public meetings. With an impending repeat of last year’s flood event we need to get busy fixing … not fighting.
Dean P. Remboldt