STOP the CID Tax

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The following letter was composed by Eapen Thampy and Mitch Richards and is addressed to all citizens of Columbia who are eligible to vote regarding the proposed CID tax increase. If you are one of the few eligible CID voters, Keep Columbia Free urges you to vote NO on this proposed tax hike.  Please read the following letter and share it with everyone you know. Do your part to end the fleecing of our local consumers for the benefit of a few CID bureaucrats.   

Sincerely, 

Mark Flakne

 

Hi,

The Community Improvement District (CID) is proposing through a ballot initiative on November 8, 2011, that downtown residents approve an increased sales tax of up to ½% for sales happening in the downtown business district.  The justification is that these funds will be spent on “downtown beautification”, “technology and public information enhancements”, promotion of downtown events and assistance to entrepreneurs, “event recruitment and promotion” and “enhancements” to downtown shopping, dining, and entertainment.

 We urge you to vote against this tax. There are several reasons.

As a first principle, we think we should be trying to lower the taxes on people trying to spend money in Columbia, not raise them. A new tax will increase the cost to consumers of doing business downtown, and will drive marginal consumers to other places where the sales tax is lower.

Second, many of the proposed improvements being pushed by the CID are unnecessary. There is no unique reason why a government agency should be in charge of event promotion, building smartphone apps, or providing WiFi. There are a variety of Columbia’s citizens AND BUSINESSES who make it their livelihoods through providing these services, and we shouldn’t give a government agency tax dollars to compete in these markets. Moreover, it is inevitable that the decisions made by a public agency to micro-manage Columbia businesses will cause division and turmoil fostered by accusations of favoritism and collusion. We don’t need that in our community.

Third, the First Ward needs another police officer and perhaps another fire company. If we are going to raise taxes to provide public services, these are the vital services that are needed in our city, and we should reject spending money on other projects until our most vital needs are attended to.

Fourth, the CID has lost the trust of many voters and citizens. In joining with Keep Columbia Safe to push for the installation and public funding of surveillance cameras, the CID joined forces with people who used city dollars to push a partisan agenda. Moreover, whether or not you feel the cameras were necessary, campaign promises to not use these cameras for live surveillance were broken, and the cameras have been installed in places where they are not conspicuous and easily visible, as the ORDINANCE mandates. It would be difficult to place further trust in an entity which has engaged in said conduct. We should also consider the risk that future tax revenue will be used to pay for more surveillance cameras instead of making real investments in law enforcement or fire protection services.

For these reasons, we ask that you reject this proposed tax at the ballot.

Eapen Thampy

Mitch Richards, Keep Columbia Free

If you’d like to contact us on this or similar issues, emails directed to Eapen.Thampy@gmail.com will reach us. You may also call at 573-673-5351.

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4 thoughts on “STOP the CID Tax

  1. Mark Haim

    While I disagree with a number of the points you made, I appreciate your engagement with the issue and your encouragement of dialogue and public participation.

    I find it interesting that you fail to mention what seems to me, if one is to oppose this, the best reason to do so: Sales Taxes are REGRESSIVE.

    The counter argument is that they reach a broader swath of the population than either property or earnings taxes, which are not regressive.

    I haven’t had a chance to look closely at the items this sales tax is slated to fund. And I don’t live in the CID, so I won’t get to vote on it. If the agenda is worthy of support, one then has to weigh what’s the best way to fund it. If not, it’s a no-brainer to oppose the tax. I will give a listen to your show tonight and try to read up some more before I make up my mind.

    Again, thanks,
    Mark Haim

    Reply
  2. Pingback: More on the Downtown Columbia, Missouri CID proposed sales tax | Ducks and Economics

  3. Jeremy Calton

    I think your second point could easily be split into two:
    1) For what types of expenditures are we to believe the government is uniquely qualified to develop and make decisions? Are they doing anything the Chamber of Commerce or business can’t already do for itself? Do we really think the city is better qualified to promote an event than the private organizer of that event, and that we should all be required to pay the city to do that on a private enterprise’s behalf?

    The only thing I can see as even vaguely a municipal prerogative is downtown beautification, although individual business owners could already do that themselves.

    2) Who will decide how the money gets apportioned? What is the likelihood that it will be done fairly? Or that everyone will be happy where the money goes? Why not let us decide for ourselves where we want our money to go by letting us spend our money at places we like?

    Another point I’d like to make is that any time a government does something like this, we shift dollars away from local (downtown) businesses and out to corporate stores who are already sitting on sweetheart tax deals from the city. How can a local business owner possibly compete with that? Why has our city council (read: the Chamber of Commerce) been delegated the ability to pick winners and losers in local retail or service?

    Finally, how do we know this won’t lead to “enhancements” such as egregious parking garage construction?

    Reply
  4. Eapen Thampy

    Mark,
    While I don’t mention the regressive nature of sales taxes, I do make clear mention of the fact that the tax will make it more expensive for consumers to transact businesses in downtown Columbia. I think it is a serious deficiency that this tax would negatively impact downtown employees, students, and other people of low income status. We do not have a disagreement here.

    Thanks for your engagement. I should note that I disagree with you on a number of other issues, but do appreciate your commitment to civil discourse and democratic processes and hope that we may see eye to eye on this issue.

    Eapen Thampy

    Reply

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