Sunday, June 01, 2008

No Debate On Morristown Sales Tax Referendum

City residents in Morristown have a sales tax increase referendum on the ballot for their vote on Tuesday, but there is pretty much zero information about the ballot. A county-wide vote was defeated earlier this year, despite much huffing and puffing to promote it in the local press. Most in the public just won't vote to increase taxes. All those temporary measure taxes, like for a wheel tax, voted for in county after county were really votes for a permanent tax. Voters learn quickly from such experiences.

For Tuesday - not even the city's web site has one word about the upcoming vote. The only listed event for Tuesday June 3rd is a city council meeting. Is the measure more likely to pass if fewer people vote? Until the vote is counted Tuesday, we won't know. It sure seems like a low turnout is being hoped for.

Blogger Linda Noe has reported on the mass mailed letters to "property owners" asking them to support the tax increase, an effort paid for by tax dollars. Has the city decided the less said about the sales tax increase the better?

Part of the push from City Hall is that their recent massive 40-cent property tax increase would be rolled back some 15 cents if this vote passes. But given the budget mess they have on their hands, how long before that 15 cents gets added back in again? Or 25 cents? Or more? The sales tax increase is permanent.

Ben Cunningham at Taxing Tennessee writes about the city's registering itself as a committee to promote the proposed increase:

I wish I could find words to describe the arrogance of these Morristown officials."

I am not a city resident and will have no vote on Tuesday. However, I can and do vote by deciding where I go to spend money, as do so many others in the area. Knowing I could travel into the city limits to make a purchase at a higher price or travel about the same distance to Jefferson County and Jefferson City ... well, with everything costing more and more, I look for savings wherever I can. Some folks can't afford to pay for the extra cost of gas to travel outside the city for a small savings on sales tax, but I wonder how many non-city residents will decide to not make a purchase while in Morristown?

Whether or not the city needs an increase in sales taxes, needs to cut spending, needs to reconfigure their operations - all that is a topic for debate, certainly.

But I hear no debate at all.

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