The voters should make this sales tax decisionThe City Council decided Monday to forego voter approval and amended the current ordinance to take half of the 1 percent sales tax to reduce the city’s share of special assessments and extend the tax until 2018. The intent to lower taxes is good, but we question the means to achieve it.
The City Council decided Monday to forego voter approval and amended the current ordinance to take half of the 1 percent sales tax to reduce the city’s share of special assessments and extend the tax until 2018. The intent to lower taxes is good, but we question the means to achieve it.
Is raiding the economic development fund the best way to lower taxes? How will this affect economic development efforts in the area?
By making this decision, the council left the voters out of any discussion on what’s important to them. These are the voters who last went to the polls in a special election in 2005 to support the use of the 1 percent sales tax for economic development. To date the sales tax has been reaffirmed every seven years, so by extending it to 2018 that decision was taken out of voters’ hands for more than decade.
Tax reduction or not, the City Council has handled the issue with no regard for the city’s voters. It’s not the first time council members have battled the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. with the aim of taking economic development funds. It’s been going on for years and now the council has finally found the necessary votes to simply take what it wants.
That’s not good enough. The issue of economic development versus tax reduction affects the community in the long term. The City Council needs to give members of the community an opportunity to weigh in. If we have questions, you can bet the public has more.
The issue shouldn’t be reduced to a tax break — it’s far too important. The community needs to have a clear view of what’s happening and the right to vote on it. The outcome at the ballot box is something the community will have to live with for many years to come. It’s the voter’s responsibility to make that decision, not the City Council.
The council should defer to the voters on the questions of if the sales tax should be continued and how it should be used.
(Editorials are the opinion of Jamestown Sun management and the newspaper’s editorial board)