Tag Archives: Tax Increass

Proposition 1 is a Stinker: Give It the Royal Flush

What’s that smell and where is it coming from? Is it the sewer backing up? Nah. The malodor is emanating from a Columbia, Mo sewage-leak-releasesewer bond proposal, which seeks to place the city’s sewer system on terra firma—or, at least, that is the justification for the bond. While some say the bond proposal is a boon to the city because it helps pay for an improved sewer system, others say it is a massive waste of important resources and, ultimately, baneful to Como citizen’s wallets and pocketbooks.

Nonetheless, if Como citizens vote for the bond on the Nov. 5 ballot, which is a debt owed, rates will increase, fees will be enacted, and a multitude of taxes will follow in order to pay down the loan.

Before talking about bonds in general, let’s take a trip back in time: Columbia voters passed a $77 million sewer bond issue in 2008 that was supposed to allocate $4 million to cutout Columbia’s ” private common collector sewers.” Not only was this 2008 iteration of today’s sewer bond proposal a waste of taxpayer dollars (“private common collector sewers” split the cost of maintaining sewers with the taxpayer 50/50, lowering the cost to the taxpayer), as highlighted by Columbia Heartbeat’s Mike Martin, but it was also a promise that went unfulfilled because this year’s proposal is making the same promise: eradicating the “private common collector sewers.”

Instead of repackaging a turd from 2008, maybe Como’s City Council could flush these ridiculously expensive bonds down the toilet. After all, turds were meant to be flushed.

But I guess the Columbia City Council wants to act consistently: They say, well, we wasted $4 million in 2008, we might as well stay consistent and waste approx. the same amount in 2013.

What is worse, it appears as though inequitable utility billing practices have plagued Columbia for years.

Indeed, four years ago it was revealed that former Columbia sewer superintendent Bill FOURTHWARD_032113_Bill_Weitkemper_RP048Weitkemper—a man with an absolute stranglehold on sewer spending in Columbia—found that utility bills were more expensive for individuals in residential households than for large utility users like the University of Missouri, apartment owners and strip malls; Weitkemper, in a letter to the City Council, said “master meters,” which measure sewage usage at several apartments and buildings, are the reason why individuals residents have higher utility bills than MU, strip malls and apartment complexes.

I guess it is true: shit really does roll down hill.

The master meters, he admonished the Council, should, for purposes of making utility bills more equitable, be abolished in favor of individual meters, which measure individual units and buildings.

As for bonds in general: It is easy to see why they are so attractive; a bond’s immediate input of revenue into public coffers allows local governments, state governments and the federal government to avoid increasing taxes.  But like most personal loans, which are oftentimes frivolously spent by the borrower with nary a consideration for repayment in the long run, the issuance of bonds becomes easier and easier to undertake.

To wit, the issuance of bonds, by dint of the fact that they are easier to stomach than tax increase, can easily become part of normal operating procedure. To that point, the potentates in Congress and in state legislatures suggest bonds for myriad things: Does our local police force need a tank? Issue a bond; do we need a new, modern national airport? Issue a bond.

In short, bonds tend to stack up on top of another, making them nearly impossible to pay off.

Apparently, spending other people’s money is habit forming.

For example, as explained by the Show-Me-Institute’s Michael Rathbone during testimony before the Missouri Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Missouri’s Missouri’s FY 2013 budget showed that the state completed payments for the Third State Building Bonds, but the state is still paying for the Fourth State Building Bonds, and Water Pollution Control Bonds.

Moreover, according to Missouri FY 2013 budget, the state, along with its pending bonds, is also facing nearly $5 billion in unfunded liabilities. These unfunded liabilities and the excessive selling of  bonds portend bad things for many Missourians going forward, and many Columbia citizens especially: we are all going to face massive tax and fee increases to pay off these bonds.

In the end, a bond issuance is not free money–nothing is free. Taxpayers will be asked to pay out the butt for these bonds in the coming years.

Keep Columbia Free, if you have not gathered, thinks that Proposition 1–the initiative that, if approved, would sell bonds for sewer work–stinks.

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Tony St. Romaine’s Insatiable Lust for Other People’s Money

Columbia, Mo Mayor Bob McDavid, after some clamoring from Columbia citizens, came out in support of a 20 cent increase in personal property tax—which is another tax proposal in a seemingly never ending litany of tax proposals, the most recent of course being the 3/8 sales tax increase to pay for an $11 million 911 call center, a facility that is projected to have an annual cost upkeep of nearly $9 million—as a conduit for the hiring of an extra 35 Columbia, Mo police officers.

 

Mayor McDavid, after sensing the animus against a personal property tax increase, and noting the Columbia Police Officer’ Association’s (CPOA) assertion that a $3.5 million tax increase is simply not necessary to stem Columbia’s criminal element, made the snap quick, but perspicacious decision to split the scenery at Bugsy’s beanery; in short, he backed off of his initial support for the tax increase, breaking the news of his about-face on an August 13 Facebook post:

                 

                    “Based on comments made by the Columbia Police Officers Association, I no longer

                     support an increase in property tax to fund an increase in police staffing.”

 

One would think that the sensible minds on the City Council would follow suit, but such thoughts, apparently are unfounded. 

 

As if to buck reality, and to solidify the “most unpopular city managers in Columbia” title, Tony St. Romaine has decided to draw a line in the sand on behalf of tax increases. He is throwing his full weight and support behind the personal property tax increase. Somebody has to stick up for unwanted, unwarranted tax increases, no?

 

Romaine, some might remember, was the same city manage who backed universally disliked policies and ideas like the red light cameras, the use of $3 million in city reserve funding to buy up property for private developers (the worse kind of corporate cronyism), and the erection of an opulently expensive 10 story parking garage downtown (given the sobriquet, Garagezilla), which is more popular among those wishing to commit suicide (two people, in one year’s time, have leaped to their death off of the structure) then it is among the general public.

 

So the CPOA and the mayor are on the same side. They both believe that extra police officers, and the expense that comes with them, can easily be paid through funds filtered through the 911 sales tax and from the cutting back on overtime that current police officers receive; the increase in police force would, necessarily decrease the amount of forced overtime that police officers have to log every day, giving the Mayor and City Council the requisite money to pay for a extra police officers. 

 

The bottom line—according to Mayor McDavid, the CPOA and liberal Missourian columnist and professor George Kennedy, who oftentimes cuts vigorish on behalf of tax increases, is that a personal property tax increase is unnecessary at best, and a terrible idea at worse.

 

What is more, Romaine, and Mayor McDavid before sobering up, appears more than willing to default to the tax increase position on seemingly every issue of importance. If it is not his wanton adherence to a 911 sales tax, then it is his absolute, full-throated love for tax increases—regardless of iteration. A lover of zapping personal income from Columbians, Romaine, based on superfluous facts, is hell-bent on taking other people’s money purely for the purposes of funding future 10 story, 15 story and 20 story parking garages and 25 more red light cameras.

 

As a side note, Columbia residents are tired of the tax increases, and the rumors of tax increases. They want security and safety, but they are not willing to have their personal property or money pilfered and tossed down a cosmic bunny hole in order to keep up appearances. Give them real solutions, not reflexive tax increase proposals.

More on St. Romaine’s past antics HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE

Christopher W.

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