Promise to Look Into It… Have Three of My Best Guys Working On It…

Well, this is about the most milquetoast promise ever. I’ll bet you a perpetual sales tax that he comes to the conclusion that getting rid of the sales tax would not be “consistent with our values.” From the email…

As I have met with neighbors in District 3 over the past few months, one question keeps coming up again and again.  Can we please get rid of the sales tax?

The simple answer is that if we never look at it, we for sure will never be able to do it, so let’s look at it.

My Promise

To be clear, I am not promising an end to the sales tax.  What I am promising is that I will request that our County Administrator and County Board chairman work in 2018 to develop at least 4 different plans for how we could get rid of the sales tax.  I am going to request that at least 3 plans include no new taxes or tax trading, since I want at least 3 plans that are entirely based off of budget cuts and program cuts.  This will give us the ability to see if there is any viable way to end the county sales tax while remain consistent with our values.

Once we have these plans, we can look at whether the cost would be too much for us to bear, or whether it might be possible and achievable to responsibly eliminate the sales tax.  While my gut tells me that the program cuts most likely will have a cost that does not match our values, we won’t really know for sure unless we push ourselves to explore what may be possible.

And who knows, maybe we’ll surprise ourselves and find a responsible way to eliminate the sales tax without compromising our values.  One thing is for sure, if we never look then we will always have the sales tax, so let’s at least look.

Background Info

The sales tax was put in place long before I was elected.  The community is right to feel disillusionment about the sales tax, since it was originally presented as a temporary tax to provide property tax relief and fund capital improvements.  When the sales tax came up for renewal in 2016, there was no plan for how we could eliminate it, so it would create a massive disruption to the County’s various programs.  I felt like I had no choice but to vote to renew it.

For a long time I have just accepted the common talking point that we only have 2 options for eliminating it:

1)      Replacing it with a different tax.  Sure, we could easily eliminate the sales tax by putting in a different tax, but what does that solve?  Really, all that does is trade one tax for another, what I call tax-trading.  Tax-trading is when one tax is eliminated by replacing it with a different tax, such as a property tax increase, a wheel tax, or another new tax.

2)      Massive program cuts that don’t match our values.  The option to do massive program cuts would significantly hinder the county’s ability to deliver on many of the things it currently does.  Those services include the Sheriff’s department, Samaritan, maintaining the County Highways, child protective services, and any of the other services the County provides.  Does that really match our values?

Recently I’ve reached a bit of a turning point on the issue.  Instead of sticking with what I think, I’ve decided that it is time to explore what might be possible, and to see what the impact to County programs would be.  When the sales tax comes up for renewal in 2021, I don’t want to be making a decision based on what I think, I want to make a decision based upon what we have studied and what we know.  And if there is any chance of ending the County sales tax, we would need to start working on that now.

That’s why I am promising is that I will request that our County Administrator and County Board chairman work in 2018 to develop at least 4 different plans for how we could get rid of the sales tax.  I am going to request that at least 3 plans include no new taxes or tax trading, since I want at least 3 plans that are entirely based off of budget cuts and program cuts.

 

Remember to

re-elect Christopher Bossert

as your County Board Supervisor on April 3.