Dennis P. Morrissey
A recent NT article talked about unforeseen city costs for tornado and flood damage creating a tight budget. Funds may have to be withheld from the city's approved budget and require future tax increases. I have some suggestions that might avert tax increases by redirecting existing funds.
Commercial real estate property is woefully under appraised. The city needs to work with the county assessor to rectify this problem. This would result in lower taxes for individuals, commercial property owners paying their fair share, and a net revenue increase.
Consideration should be given to redirecting existing sales taxes. Fifty percent of city sales tax goes toward special projects. The capital improvements sales tax needs to be redirected to maintenance uses, instead of new projects, the next time it is up for renewal. We need to fix existing infrastructure. While parks are nice, the parks sales tax should be reduced and redirected with the reduction directed at maintenance of other city property. The 16-plus miles of greenway, over 1,300 acres of property, and 18 parks are sufficient for now. The City Council should nix the issuance of parks bonds which will waste $250,000 in interest payments. Both sales tax changes will allow the city to address current needs.
Our tourism tax fund has a multi-million dollar balance. To promote tourism, some of these funds should be used to clean up damage from recent natural disasters and fix infrastructure instead of building a conference center on the old prison property. We need to temporarily suspend any further expenditures on development of prison property.
We should not consider any new sales tax increases. If we raise sales tax too high, people will shop elsewhere, resulting in less revenue. Our local merchants are already at a competitive disadvantage because Jefferson City has no use tax. Example: A $35,000 car purchased out of state results in a $700 loss in city tax as Jefferson City collects nothing on the transaction. In effect, the car can be bought cheaper out of state. While I am not a proponent of tax increases, a fair tax system is needed. Jefferson City needs to reconsider imposition of a use tax on larger dollar purchases.
Implementation of these changes and reduced spending on new development will eliminate fund shortages, with minimal impact on taxpayers. I respectfully request these items be considered by our council and mayor.