The Searcy police chief created quite a stir over the weekend after his comments in the Sunday paper. According to the article, published by the Daily Citizen, Kyle Osborne called incumbent state Rep. Mark Biviano “desperate” for signing Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Osborne is challenging Biviano for his seat in this fall’s election.
“My first thought was, ‘Desperate.’ How desperate are you to get re-elected to lock yourself into something like that?”
But then we get to the crux of the matter–Osborne realizes he’s been backed into a political corner, and so he spins:
“I don’t want to lock myself into signing a pledge for a special interest group out of Washington, D.C., that has no concerns for the state of Arkansas. Once you sign that, whatever the circumstances are, you can’t change your mind.”
Osborne said that, were he elected and were a tax increase proposed, he would meet with his constituents to see what they wanted him to do.
“If they say yes, then that’s what I’ll support. If they say no, then I’ll oppose it.”
A layman’s translation: “I will vote for tax increases if people tell me to.”
It occurs to me that Osborne lacks a basic understanding of governance. Governance is not (or should not be) a game where government raises taxes every time it overspends or has a new idea for a fun project. Governance should be about operating within a budget.
Furthermore, we do not live in a direct democracy–candidates should be elected based on their values, and their constituents should be able to trust them to act based on those values. For example, Rep. Biviano says he is against tax increases and will oppose them. People who vote for him know when they cast their ballot that this is the case. Unfortunately, those who vote for Mr. Osborne are not so lucky. They’ll have to wait and see what the legislative session brings and then hope to gain Osborne’s attention long enough to find out where he stands.
Osborne also fails to consider the possibility that the interests of “the special interest group in DC” are the same interests of the people of Arkansas–and that they are furthered by a refusal to give government more money to waste. Osborne lives in a city and a county full of people that have repeatedly voted down unnecessary tax increases over the last several years–the same region that elected Mark Biviano in 2010, a champion of limited government. Continue reading
If you’re thinking about voting for the latest Searcy tax proposal, you should know that you apparently won’t be voting for improvements to the city pool–which, in my estimation, is the impression that most Searcy voters are under (the last A&P tax was proposed to fund the previous mayor’s pet project, an aquatic center, and the most recent proposal was preceded by city officials bemoaning the need for pool improvements in the local paper).
The Parks & Rec committee has apparently released a list of projects they would like to pursue with the A&P money over the next five years. Maybe I am missing something, but I do not see any pool improvements listed. From the paper:
The tax is forecasted to bring in $971,392.68 in one year, based on five months of 2009 A&P revenues. The tax does not have a sunset.
For the first five years, the large projects are as follows:
Year one: Sports complex expansion with land acquisition and development.
Year two: Expansion and development of the bike trail
Year three: Riverside Park expansion
Year four: New park development
Year five: Soccer complex drainage.
Undoubtedly, someone will rebut my comments here by claiming this list is not extensive. I’ll concede that point. But don’t you think that, if the pool repairs were of highest priority, it would be listed?
This whole thing is one big mess. The city passed this tax without listing any specific projects, but knowing full well that people would assume it was for pool improvements. Now, this list comes forth, without any pool repairs listed? It’s almost as if the city council had to pass the A&P ordinance before they could find out what it was going for (reminds me of another one of my favorite politicians).
Many of you may have been willing to pay for pool improvements, but are any of the things on this list so vital that you still support a cumulative 4% tax increase?
And take a look at Year Four: a new park? We can’t afford the parks we have, which is why we need this new tax, so if we get it, we are going to build MORE parks, which we also will not be able to afford!
They also expect us to believe that raising these sales taxes and spending all of this money on parks will magically attract businesses and new residents to Searcy.
More mismanagement by Searcy officials, facilitating more distrust in Searcy voters.
Oh by the way, the Searcy city council passed their latest tax increase on Tuesday evening by a vote of 7-0. Alderman Mark Derrick was not in attendance.
The 1% tax would be applied to prepared food in the city of Searcy (concession stands, delis, bakeries, all restaurants, coffee, fountain drinks, etc.). The 1% rate can be raised to 2% or 3% at a vote of the city council.
The proposal also carries a 3% tax on lodging, which includes room rentals. You can read the full proposal here.
The issue will be put on the November ballot before the voters of Searcy, where I predict it will get obliterated.
How will you vote? Let us know in the comments section.
The mayor has passed along these figures that show how much the last A&P tax (which was overwhelmingly rejected by voters at the polls) brought in during its tenure:
August 8, 2012
To: Members of the City Council
From: David Morris
I have asked our City Clerk/Treasurer to furnish me with the amount of the collection of the former advertising and promotion (A&P) tax, that was collected in Searcy in 2009. As you know, the former A&P tax was one percent (1%) on prepared food and three percent (3%) on lodging. The tax was collected for approximately five and a half (5 ½) months.
The actual collections for the five (5) full months were as follows:
July 2009 $79,287.48
August 2009 $79,550.03
September 2009 $82,519.80
October 2009 $84,861.82
November 2009 $78,527.80
The average of these five (5) months of full collections is $80,949.39 per month. Assuming that monthly average continued, the annual revenue generated would have been $971,392.68.
Before I dive too far into what I think about the latest proposed A&P tax in Searcy, let’s have a conversation about it. I don’t pretend to have all of the answers. Some relevant questions might be:
Can consumers afford it?
Should parks be the city’s #1 priority?
Is taxing food a sound economic policy?
Are you willing to pay higher taxes in order to receive more benefits from the city?
Leave your comments below. Looking forward to a good discussion.
While there have been some private rumblings for some time, Alderman Don Raney has now made it publicly known that he intends to propose yet another tax increase to the Searcy city council at the August meeting.
In Raney’s letter, he identifies two concerns that were raised about the last A&P proposal: 1. The issue was not placed at a general election & 2. The funds were to be overseen by an unelected commission rather than elected public officials.
(Mr. Raney is partially correct. There were objections raised about the tax being placed at a special election, but I never heard anyone demand it be placed at the general election, but simply at a regular election–primary or general election. But I digress.)
I fear that Mr. Raney thinks these two compromises on the part of the city will ease the concerns of everyone who opposed the A&P tax the first time–and for some former opponents, that may be true. But the problems with an A&P tax are fundamental.
For instance, is it ethical for our city to slap tourists with an extra 3% when they come to our city? Should they bear the cost for our amenities? And is this sound tax policy? (by the way, that 3% would also apply to groups that rent rooms for meetings in town, perhaps including Kiwanis, Lions, church groups, etc.)
Shouldn’t an “A&P tax” go towards “advertising and promotion?”
Should we be raising taxes on food?
Doesn’t this tax disproportionality effect the poor?
Do parks improvements really take precedence over infrastructure and public safety?
What level of taxation can our city sustain? Can we really keep raising taxes every time someone wants a new project and expect real growth?
Our economy is still floundering–what impact would this tax have on consumers who are tightening their belts even more?
I think these are questions that deserve answers. I’m looking forward to having a conversation with you–Searcy voters, people of White County, and activists from around the state that have seen the disastrous effects of A&P taxes and big government in your cities.
I have little doubt the A&P proposal will have any difficulty making it through the city council, so the debate is imminent.
(To our dear Searcy leaders: Sorry, I know you thought this blog was defunct. And while it is true that I have been, and will continue to be, primarily occupied with my work at The Arkansas Project, I will be taking time to weigh in on this tax debate as much as possible. I may not be leading the charge this time, but I will make my voice heard and the people will be given the facts about this proposal.)