Thursday, May 29, 2008

May 29, 2008 Local Newspaper & Sales Tax Referendum: That Was Then, This Is Now

There actually IS a citywide special election on a sales tax referendum, and early voting ends today. Election Day is June 3.

There was a countywide sales tax referendum four months ago (February 5) that failed by a narrow margin.

It is amusing to observe and speculate about the dramatic difference in local newspaper coverage (Citizen Tribune) of the February 5 countywide sales tax increase referendum (THEN) and the current June 3 citywide sales tax increase referendum (NOW).

THEN The local newspaper ran a daily barrage of articles and front-page headlines about the tax increase and/or those who supported it, such as:

"School board supports sales tax increase proposal" January 8, 2008.

"Early birds: Sales tax resolution is the hot ballot item" January 16, 2008.

"Purkey backs the tax" County Mayor David Purkey. January 23, 2008.

"Haun says schools need voters to support tax referendum" School Board Chair Janice Haun. January 24, 2008.

"Turnout low for early voting" January 25, 2008.

"Robinson: Tax increase would be extra income for schools" Chamber of Commerce CEO Thom Robinson. January 25, 2008.

"Ford Says Tax Plan Is Fair" Commissioner Stancil Ford. January 28, 2008.

"Sales tax referendum helps city property owners" City Mayor Sami Barile. January 29, 2008.

"Backing the tax: P-16 discusses importance of referendum" Tish Jones, Andy Smith. February 1, 2008.

NOW How many front-page articles/headlines have appeared so far about early voting, the current sales tax referendum, the "leaders" who support it?


THEN The tactic of hit them on the head with pro-tax articles didn't do the trick.

NOW The tactic has changed. The current election, as a previous post noted, looks more like a stealth operation.

Don't say anything (or as little as possible) on the front-page. Just network behind-the scenes and make sure that the loyal supporters of every tax increase and those who will benefit the most by the temporary property tax rollback carrot come out. Follow the money--who benefits the most and who loses.

The City keeps saying that out-of-town shoppers will help pay for the operation of city government through the sales tax increase.

What about the price of gas? What about the new stores opening in adjacent towns? How many out-of-town people will travel to a Lowe's/Walmart in Morristown when there is a Lowe's/Walmart in their own hometown? Who will be stuck making up for the loss of "out-of-town shoppers" sales tax revenue when there is a drop in budgeted sales tax revenue? Taxpayers of Morristown.

The real long-term solution would be to live within a budget--a budget that is limited to necessary government services procured and performed in a professional manner---without $100 million wish lists, chrome everywhere, overruns, no-bid agreements, and interest-only debt payments that simply pass the debt and continuing interest to the next generation!

FYI: The City taxpayers will have to pay about $8,000 for the costs of holding this special election because this is a special election that the City requested to be set on a date when no other regular election was already scheduled.

Of course, City taxpayers will be footing the bill--which they also did during the last referendum--for the current "City of Morristown" political campaign committee and its electioneering letters, etc. supporting the sales tax increase.

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