I was prompted to write this letter by the recent attempt to pass a new tax to fund an events center at UAM. My purpose now is to ask you to seriously consider how you are going to respond in the future to special elections and other tax increase proposals. Advanced consideration is extremely important, so I want to make two points. The first is that all governments want more of your dollar (please understand that if you don’t already). Secondly, local governments use special elections to get their tax increases passed. Special elections usually have a very low voter turnout that tilts the election toward passage and toward those that will benefit. That being the case, you should never fail to vote in a special election.
Special elections involving tax increases will have proponents and opponents and both should operate from a level playing field. In a previous letter I advised to watch for red flags that would indicate the field may not be level. Early elections and a poor track record are inherently red flags, therefore these should alert you to other deceit or omissions in the proponent’s campaign.
You might also consider that sales and millage taxes are assessed differently but they both have a cost of living increase built into them. Therefore you are being duped when a proponent of a millage tax increase tells you that they have not had a tax increase in some number of years. His statement is misleading and an insult to your intelligence. Citizens pay more property tax as the value of their property increases and as new homes and other construction are completed. In the case of sales tax, governments may get the same percentage, but it is tied to your earnings and when you get another dollar; government gets their percentage of that dollar and generally before you get yours. So, don’t ever go to the polls feeling sorry for government.
Of course new projects are another matter, but they too should be looked at with a wagon load of skepticism. Most new programs and projects mean bigger government. And, lots of things can be intentionally hidden away in a loosely worded new tax proposal. So watch out and consider the proponents’ track record. Whenever possible, new projects should be funded with outdated programs monies or project money. In some cases, increased scrutiny may result in a lower priority designation for the new program or project. For information on existing city and county budgets, contact City Council and Quorum Court members at meetings where detailed printed budgets are distributed to the general public.
I have no doubt that you are going to be asked to pass another tax increase very soon. So, expect it! Therefore, put some thought now into where you are going to draw your line in the sand. What percentage of your dollar are you going to give up to governments before you say; enough is enough! Whatever your decision, please, please, please do not fail to vote in every special election.
Thank you for reading.