On April 3 the citizens of Palmyra will vote on two proposals, proposition A and B, that have been put forth by the city council. They are proposing that the revenue from a new half-cent sales tax be funneled into a capital improvements fund and in turn use the money in this fund to begin slowly financing a new storm water drainage system improvements.
As you head to the polls to vote there are a couple of things I would like you to keep in mind. First, the passage or failure of these two propositions will not determine whether or not the city can begin to address the storm water drainage problem. Secondly, these two proposals are only one of a few different options that the city could use to pay for this project.
I would like to take a moment to point out that my opposition to proposition A and B does not signify an opposition to the drainage project. Instead, my hesitation with this new tax lies in the lack of transparency that will forever be associated with it. There is absolutely no legality that requires this council, or any council that follows them, to spend the revenue generated by this new tax on this specific project. In fact, the only requirement is that they spend the money on “new” capital improvements (i.e. new roads, new sidewalks) which I fear could potentially lead to mismanagement of this fund.
Using the method of funding that the council has suggested this project will take over 10 years to complete. During that time frame every one of the council members will face re-election and whomever defeats them might not choose to continue funding the drainage system. They could instead decide to divert the funds to other projects, which because of the vagueness of this fund, would totally be within their legal powers.
All that aside, there is a much larger issue at stake. When is enough ever going to be enough? How many taxes will the council burden this town with before it is deemed too much? Why, when met with a problem, the first thing our elected officials do is stick their hand out?
This storm water issue did not spring up over night. This is a problem that has been left unattended for generations. And while this council is not the only one to blame they too have chosen, until now, not to address the problem. And now, instead of attempting to create a budget using only the current revenue available to begin fixing the problem they did what every other elected official does, they simply asked for more money. They did what was the easiest and left them the most amount of wiggle room if ever they decide to stop funding the project.
This time, instead of handing the council another blank check, lets vote no and force them to propose a real, honest plan that has the specific goal of fixing this specific problem in a timely manner. Demanding to know how and where your tax dollars are being spent is not a sin, it is a responsibility.