The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

City Hall critic Carol Martin admits opposing local-option tax is “tricky”

In Brian Fagan, City Hall, Floods on February 3, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Carol Martin, the best-known critic of City Council spending over many years now, is no longer a constant presence at City Council meetings. But she did show up at the noon on Tuesday to hear for herself the council case for a local-option sales tax.

Without pause, the council said the city needed the extra tax revenue to help meet hundreds of millions of dollars in unmet needs associated with flood recovery. Property taxes, the city’s principal revenue source, can’t carry a bigger load, and federal and state funds aren’t going to be enough, council members said.

Council members, too, asked residents to consider the 1-percent sales tax, not as a new imposition, but rather as another way for residents to give as they already have for flood recovery and for the good of the whole community.

“As a city, I do believe there is an obligation that we have to work with the community and to help our neighbors as we did during the flood — with dignity, determination and discipline,” council member Brian Fagan said.

It is an argument that Martin appreciates.

“It’s kind of a tricky situation because no one wants to have flood victims suffer any more,” Martin said a few hours after Tuesday’s noon meeting.

Nonetheless, by late Tuesday afternoon, she was already mobilizing her network of City Hall skeptics to oppose the March 3 vote on the 1-percent sales tax.

Martin said she feared that the sales tax revenue – between $18 million and $23 million a year, city officials estimate – would not get to flood victims, and in any event, she said the length of the taxing period – 5 years and 3 months – was too long.

Martin also noted layoffs in the city and she said it was a particularly tough time to impose a new tax. She said she might feel differently if she thought the city was watching its spending.

“But they keep spending money like it’s going out of style,” Martin said. “Show me how you’re being frugal with our money, especially now.”

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  1. […] Give them an inch….. UPDATE: Clearly I’m not the only one who isn’t exactly chomping at the bit to blindly accept new taxation. « LOST: […]

  2. sell the old Wilson meat packing plant that we paid MILLIONS for. Also the Heinz building on 12th ave. and 3rd street S.E. for a few million extra dollars.
    To this day I dont understand why we bought these buildings in the first place.

  3. I have become tired of “no” and ideas that don’t work like selling the Sinclair property. No one but the city could have bought it and no one but the city would be in a position to redevelop it. It was a hole in the middle of the city, and after June 2008 that hole got bigger.

    It’s not blindly accepting new taxation…but it sounds like the opponents aren’t interested in anything but the reverberations from the echo chamber they’re locked inside.

    How about some constructive alternatives if you say “no?”
    Hmmm…
    The silence is deafening.

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