Alternatives on the Ballot

At the end of the last Weekly Business Session, Commissioner Reedy said that the Board must present the people with “alternatives on the ballot” to fund this county. I agree; we need alternatives.

Two alternatives for funding our county have been proposed; so far, only one appears to be headed for the ballot-not because citizens have been demanding that particular tax, but because a temporary property tax levy is the default position of this county when outside sources fall short.

Indeed, several citizens have spoken against a levy, and some have proposed an alternative: a general retail sales tax, excluding food and any part of a purchase over $1,000. This would be easier on people with property but little money, such as retired people on fixed incomes, but it wouldn’t send large sales to other counties.

Not funding our county is not an alternative; it’s a disaster. The State is not going to allow us to not use our jail. We need a jail to make probation and parole work and to hold dangerous people; that’s why it’s a mandated service of the county. We don’t know what will happen if we don’t pass something; I don’t want to find out.

Please present the voters with both alternatives for funding, and set them against each other by stating that only the measure with the most votes will pass. This will change the debate from an unproductive “tax or no tax” to a productive “which tax is better; which is worse.”

Some say that a sales tax will never pass; others say a levy won’t pass. If you present either alone, it probably won’t pass. But if you put both on the ballot, then people will have to think seriously about how much they will pay with each alternative, and pick one to keep the other from passing. If one votes “no” on both, one risks the possibility that the alternative one hates the most will pass. Conversely, those who don’t have a strong preference but really want our public safety funded will vote yes on both and let the most popular measure pass.

Those who fear that a sales tax will balloon like it has in California should remember that voters have to pass any increase; we have more protection than California voters. Those who say that it will never pass should not fear it on the ballot. Please don’t try to pick a winner for us; if you really want our county funded, you should present us with real alternatives to do so and let us choose.

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