Highland’s City Council just taxed first, will ask questions later.
They want to repair or replace their police station, fire stations and ambulance facilities. They identified four options, from do nothing until money appears to spending $5.5 million on renovations to existing structures.
Their only certainty was they wanted to saddle local merchants with the competitive disadvantage of a new, one-half cent sales tax in three new business districts. Shoppers in those specific districts are paying for everyone’s public safety needs.
That isn’t much different than buying police cars with tax increment financing funds intended to fix business blight.
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Figuring out your needs, then spending money as if it were coming out of your own pocket, would be much more preferable. Instead, Highland is taxing a few folks and hoping there is enough to cover a citywide need. They pondered asking voters for a full 1-cent sales tax, but instead took this smaller side-step.
Straight up telling property taxpayers that they were going to be charged $5 million for new emergency service facilities is a lot more honest, and gives voters a chance to boot you for that vote, than this sales tax sleight of hand.