03/08/08 — The whole ballot: Sales tax proposal is itself sufficient reason to vote

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The whole ballot: Sales tax proposal is itself sufficient reason to vote

In case you did not notice it on the bottom after all the names of all the people who are seeking to represent you in state and local offices this year, there was another little item that will be on the ballot this May.

Wayne County is asking you — the voters — to register your opinion about a sales tax increase for the coming year.

The money is necessary, your leaders say, because there are several projects that must be accomplished around the county and the budgets is tight. A sales tax increase will allow the work to move forward by adding needed revenue to the bottom line.

Also in the mix is the need for more money for schools — both for facilities and for programs.

There are many people in many communities who automatically register a “no” vote whenever anyone suggests a tax increase.

They do not believe that governments spend money wisely — or that they have a need for any more money to play with. They think that any sort of tax increase is a direct assault on the already overburdened taxpayer.

And in many cases, they are right. Governments do seem to rely a little bit too much on tax increases and not enough on tightening their belts. That philosophy becomes especially problematic when more than one government decides a tax increase is a must to balance its budget. Then, your modest tax bill becomes unmanageable.

So, keeping an eye on our local leaders is not such a bad idea.

Is this a case of too little effort to find an alternative and not convincing enough of a necessity to justify asking for a sales tax increase? Will the money be divided up in such a manner that it reflects this community’s top priority for the future?

Only time and a little more exploration into the particulars will tell.

But anyone who has not decided yet whether he or she plans to vote this May needs to realize that there is a reason that tax increases are put on primary ballots — the turnout is lower.

It is in all of our best interests to have our say one way or the other this May.

But before we decide how we are going to vote, we need to get some detailed answers about the money that will be raised and how it will be used.

We need to make sure that we know what we are voting for or against.

Moving this county forward is going to cost money. Progress always requires an investment.

Making sure we spend our money wisely on projects that will matter to our children and grandchildren is our responsibility.

And the first step is making sure our questions get answered before we punch a ballot.

Published in Editorials on March 8, 2008 11:21 PM