Jen Warnert, St. Joseph
Although there have been multiple articles regarding the half-cent sales tax, public meetings and an article from the mayor explaining it, some people still don’t understand either how it works or what the consequences are of not voting for the extension. For those who do understand, I apologize for any redundancy but last week’s letter to the editor sparked me to reiterate. Per another article ran last week, “Please vote ‘yes’ to tax extension,” up to $10 million of the tax revenue would be spent for transportation improvements, I’m not going to go into detail on those but with that being the largest chunk of money spent I don’t understand how anyone could believe the monies generated only fund projects that benefit ‘a small group of people.’ I believe this to be a biased opinion as the other projects funded are geared towards the entire community and it’s up to the individual whether they take advantage of them or not. In addition to that, without this revenue the city would have to look elsewhere for street repairs and more, and that may be a higher tax yet if so decided. I’d also urge the community to realize that last week’s article’s comment regarding utilities would only be accurate if your bills were paid to a zip code that participates in the half-cent sales tax. I know my cable and cellular bills aren’t even sent to somewhere in Minnesota let alone the six-city region.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m working with a dedicated group of people to bring a water amenity to the city of St. Joseph so I’m hoping the extension is passed. However, the biggest argument for voting to extend this tax is that right now, St. Joseph receives $1.42 for every dollar spent in the six-city region. If it were not to be extended, and the other cities did, you’d still be taxed it when you purchased anything in the other five cities. The money you’d spend would go to the other five cities and your hometown wouldn’t see a penny of it. Another piece of this is that during the last 20 years the city has been getting revenue with this tax and those monies aren’t automatically earmarked for things. The public is free to take well-researched ideas to the council that fit the regional criteria to ask for the revenue to fund a project. With the half-cent revenue, the city takes into consideration what it could use the revenue for in order to possibly prevent any tax increases. I see this as positive for everyone and not just a small group of people. So while I do have a horse in this race, I’m supporting it in order to support the community as a whole by believing the extension would bring interesting projects to the city, minimal other tax increases while making great use of money our community members are spending everyday. Please vote ‘yes’ to the extension. Thank you.