Quarter for your thoughts

August 1, 2013 

It used to be that the art of politics was essentially the art of compromise. That is an antiquated notion these days in Washington, D.C., or Springfield, but here in the metro-east we're very happy to see it return.

Belleville has been wrestling with what to do about the 0.25 percent sales tax hike that it passed until the end of this year. It was intended to be a temporary fix for disappearing state dollars and was seen as better than the $20 per car wheel tax.

Mayor Mark Eckert would like the sales tax increase to be permanent. No one really notices an extra 25-cent tax on a $100 purchase, but the city can do a lot with the extra $1.2 million it generated such as adding four police officers. Failing that, extend the tax for four years so the city can keep the four cops at least as long as a federal grant that will help pay them runs.

On the other side were 10 residents opposed to extending the tax, saying they already paid the city enough extra with recent boosts in fees for sewers and housing as well as higher property taxes.

Well neither side got exactly what they wanted. The compromise that will go before Belleville aldermen on Aug. 5 is for a two-year extension and the mandate for a public vote before the sales tax can be extended beyond that.

A little public engagement, a little political diversity on the council, a little transparency and suddenly you see a system that may not give you what you want, but is more likely to give you what you need.

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