Sometimes when I am bored or just needing a good chuckle, I head to social media to find out what the local pundits are complaining about. It’s usually the same kind of stuff – the city sucks, we have too many Dollar General stores, the city won’t let some company come into town, the electric department isn’t very good and city officials are getting rich at the expense of the local taxpayers. Seeing such wanton stupidity on open display is always worth at least a little smile.
Having served on the Harrisonville Board of Aldermen in the past, I continue to try to figure out how it is that the mayor, aldermen, city administrator, police chief, head of the zoning department or receptionist are getting rich at the taxpayer’s expense. If this kind of graft is really possible, I am pretty ticked off I didn’t get a share while I was in office.
Then I read where the city is keeping (insert name of any restaurant, retail chain of your choice) from coming to the city. In virtually every case, some expert knows for sure that (insert name of any restaurant, retail chain of your choice) has said they want to come to the city, but the city has blocked them because they don’t want them in town. So far, I have yet to see where anyone has been able to come up with any proof of such claims, but it does make for a good rant.
A popular complaint is about city utilities, you know, the pundits say, we would be better off if the city sold all the utility services and we were serviced by one of the big, out-of-town companies. Talk to some of our neighboring cities about how their repairs are handled by outside companies as opposed to the local folk and see what they might advise on the subject.
One of my favorites was in the past week someone complained, in essence, something needs to be done because the city’s power is always going out, we have too many water main breaks and gas leaks. First, the city does not control the gas service in the city. Secondly, there has been exactly one gas leak and one water line break reported in the city in the past year.
Another irony, many of the same people complaining about power outages are the same people who complain the city wants to come on their property and trim trees. Tree limbs, along with squirrels, are the main causes of electric disruptions.
The key to these and other issues is quite frankly: money. Unlike the federal government, which can print dollar bills all day long, then print more if they like, then threaten a government shutdown if the ability to borrow more money is balked at, the city government is bound by the money it brings in, most of which comes from sales tax.
During one of the tirades this week, one economic scholar posted that the city doesn’t fix potholes and can’t keep the power on, so be sure to vote against the tax the city has on the ballot next week. You can’t argue with logic like that: if you want things fixed, make sure those who can fix it don’t have the money to fix it.
I will again state: I hate taxes. I was against the library tax in 2020. I was against the marijuana tax last year. My record of anti-taxes goes back to the justice center 20-something years ago. I hate taxes on the federal, state and local level.
In an ideal world, if you make a dollar you would keep a dollar. Unfortunately, there are things like police, fire, streets, sewers, the military, national parks, etc. that require funding. So, part of that dollar you get is taken away to pay for these things.
Tuesday, we in Harrisonville are being asked to place a use tax on out-of-state online sales. As much as I hate taxes, I will hold my nose and vote yes on Prop U. As has been pointed out, it simply makes the tax equal to what local merchants are already having to pay. One of the other hats I wear is president of the local chamber of commerce and as such, I feel responsible to helping promote the local business community.
It is not helping the local business community if they have to pay taxes on items while out-of-state vendors can sell the same thing for less because they are skipping the tax. Why shouldn’t a business, be it in Louisburg, Kansas or in San Francisco, California, be responsible for paying the same tax on a product purchased by a person in Harrisonville as the business in Harrisonville would have to pay for the same product? Ask yourself this, when your church holds its next fundraiser and needs prizes donated, who is going to step up, the local company or that national distributing company? Whose name is on the front of the little league baseball team, a local merchant or Amazon?
Take the businesses out of the equation and think about the financial impact of increased online sales. If someone steals that package off your porch, who do you call? The police. What is paying those police? Local sales taxes. When the big trucks come barreling down our streets with deliveries which help create potholes, what pays to fix the potholes? Local sales taxes.
Taxes suck, always have, always will. But they do serve a purpose. Unless one of the local online Einsteins can explain how voting no on the use tax will help improve city services, I will say we all need to vote yes on Proposition U on Tuesday.