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.
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.
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.
re-elect Christopher Bossert
as your County Board Supervisor on April 3.
Taxpayers never voted for the sales tax.
The original purpose of the sale tax was for construction which was completed many years ago. Today, the money has found other uses like retiring the debt for the County golf course, funding EDWC loans and propping up Fair Park. County’s Executive Committee handles the sales tax budget and many times is looking for places to spend it. Yes, some is also used to offset a small portion of the County property tax, a tax that is larger than our neighboring counties except Milwaukee.
Having served on both the Finance and Executive Committees, IF there was a will to end the sales tax, there is more than enough pork that could be eliminated to balance the budget.
Owen, I appreciate you posting this, so that our community can continue to discuss this. I’d like you to consider a couple of things:
1) 1) What I am promising here is more than my opponent (who was on the County Board for 14 years) ever did towards eliminating the sales tax.
2) 2) What I am promising is more than our County Board did prior to renewing the sales tax in 2016.
3) 3) Even if we don’t eliminate the sales tax, we may find some efficiencies that may help us provide additional property tax relief, which undoubtedly is a good thing.
4) 4) When I was elected in 2016, I inherited both the sales tax as well as the broken promise that the sales tax would be a temporary tax.
5) 5) If we never look closely at how we could get rid of the sales tax, we for sure will always have it.
6) 6) I would rather under-promise and over-deliver, as opposed to over-promising and under-delivering. Simply put, I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep. I kept my promises in 2016, and I intend to keep my 2018 promises if re-elected.
Once we have some plans for how we could conceivably get rid of the sales tax, then we can as a community weigh out the full impact of those plans on the County’s operations.
BTW Bill Meyers, feel free to e-mail me with information on what cuts you believe we can make, as I definitely am open to considerations. If I recall correctly the sales tax is all or nothing, so we would need to find about $13 million in cuts. If you know where to look, I’m all ears.