Now that I’ve provided some factual information about the structure of the proposed “bypass tax” in White County, I think it is important to present some of the arguments/agendas at work in this debate. From my perspective, there are a few schools of thought.
First, it is important to clarify that there are really two debates happening here–and the local governments have successfully muddled them into one large cesspool in order to advance their agenda.
The two issues at hand: 1. Do we want/need a bypass? And 2. Do we want/need a tax to pay for it?
Some are claiming that it would be irresponsible to not pass the tax and build the bypass because we would be “missing out on an opportunity to receive ‘free money’ from the state.” This is logic truly lost on me. There is no such thing as free money. Not only will the money come with countless strings attached, it is our money to begin with.
Furthermore, we should not allow any amount of bribery or persuasion from the state or federal government to dictate how we conduct our business here at the local level. If we do not have the money for this project, we should not do it. And raising taxes so we can get “free money” is reckless and irresponsible.
Those in city governments across the county see this tax as an opportunity to stuff their city’s coffers. Remember, half of the projected revenue from the tax (approximately $9 million) will be redistributed to the cities on a per capita basis. More free money!
Then there are the rumors are floating around the city of Searcy that their additional $3 million in revenue will be used to set up an aquatic center fund. I can’t verify this and city officials will deny it, but it’s out there. The local newspaper is now reporting that the Searcy City Council will formally declare their support for the tax. They just can’t help themselves. They know they cannot get a tax passed on their own–voters in Searcy have voted down tax increases twice in recent years–so they’ve convinced the county to do their bidding for them. Are Searcy politicians using the county government (and taxpayers) to advance their tax-hiking agenda?
Haven’t the people of Searcy made it clear that they don’t want to pay higher taxes? And aren’t these the same politicians who supported the A&P Tax because it was a “participatory tax, not a tax on everything?” Breaking news: the bypass tax is a tax on everything.
Another school of thought is declaring that this bypass “will be GREAT for businesses!” But since when is raising taxes good for businesses? And as for the merits of the bypass, I can see where it will create potential for future economic growth as Searcy expands, but right now, our businesses are struggling. After all, we are in a serious recession. Is this a reasonable time to even consider raising taxes? I think not.
Just a few weeks ago, Yarnell’s closed its doors and put several hundred employees out of work. Is this really the time to start diverting traffic away from our businesses? Or a prudent time to suck $18 million out of our local economy?
There are arguments that can be made for and against the bypass–there is validity in both sides of this issue. But how can we possibly consider raising taxes to do it? These politicians love taxes and they seem to think they have been elected to raise them.
The appetite of government is insatiable. Bureaucrats will never stop asking for more money from taxpayers–will we stop giving it?
Nicholas Horton is the Editor of The Arkansas Patriot & former Searcy City Council candidate. He owns & operates Horton’s Lawn Care in Searcy. In his spare time, he volunteers for various political causes. Contact Nicholas at firstname.lastname@example.org & follow him on Twitter.