I would like to comment on the article regarding the sales tax election in Alma that appeared on the Feb. 22 front page. There was much talk in the article about city beautification projects, new fire trucks, and the ability for it to be used for operational expenses. While I am not in favor of the tax as currently written, the fact that we’re already paying it makes it easier to swallow for most. However, the way it is being presented leaves me thinking there is a better way.
There has been little talk of why they are making the tax permanent, other than to avoid an election every "eight or 10 years" and I would imagine the ability to estimate the budget years ahead. The idea of making the tax permanent after it has been renewed twice before troubles me. Why not leave it up to the citizens of Alma to decide whether they want to continue paying the tax with their votes?
Should this issue pass, how long will it be before another 1-cent tax is on the ballot for another improvement? And let’s not forget about the .75 percent Crawford County jail tax looming in the distance making a 10.25 percent sales tax a real possibility.
I respect the council for being forward thinking with the long term growth of Alma in mind and the attempted transparency of the current proposal. However, the article states, "If the tax fails to pass, current city officials still will have time to put together a bond issue, project-specific tax ballot before the tax sunsets…". In my opinion, if the city wants fire trucks they need to be asking for fire trucks. A specific bond issue tax would be detailed, cover individual needs, and not be a permanent tax. The current proposal is extremely open ended and permanent.
As such, I cannot support this tax and would encourage the citizens of Alma to give thought to their vote on March 11.