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

Shields fumes over what he says are sales-tax vote distortions; Shey quotes Mark Twain

In City Hall, Justin Shields, Pat Shey on February 18, 2009 at 9:57 pm

Council meetings begin with comments from the public, and last night a couple of citizens suggested that the council would use the $18 million in annual revenue from a local-option sales tax to balance its budget, not for flood relief.

Council member Justin Shields, of late, has had a short fuse for such misinformation because he says the city needs the sales-tax revenue to get back on its feet after the flood.

Shields tried to set the record straight, saying it would be a “crying shame” if the March 3 vote on a 1-percent local-option sales tax went down to defeat at the hands of statements from people who weren’t telling the truth.

Shields then went around the council table and asked each of his council colleagues to state what the council intended to do with 90 percent of the sales-tax revenue. Ten percent goes to property-tax relief.

To a person, each council member said the 90-percent of the money would go for flood-damaged housing, to buy it out or repair what can be fixed or to pay local matches for federal dollars used for buyouts or repair.

“All for housing, all the time,” council member Monica Vernon said.

When council member Pat Shey’s turn came to talk, Shey took particular offense to a citizen’s suggestion that the council spent only 25 minutes at a meeting deciding on the ballot language for the March 3 local-option tax vote. The meeting in question might have lasted 25 minutes, but Shey said he and his council colleagues have been thinking about flood recovery since June 17.

Shey, too, was concerned about misinformation and he paraphrased a piece of Mark Twain wisdom to make the point: “A rumor can be halfway around the world before the truth gets its shoes on.”

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  1. One of the criteria for getting the CBDG money was that the alternative of additional local taxes and user fees would place and undue burden on the residents. So the city takes the CDBG money and now wants to add a local option tax, raise property taxes and utility rates?

  2. ASAP, CR Council needs to put a Large Statement in the Gazette how the local option tax will be use, and please sign their names under this statement showing they are all in agreement. Also a link to a same statement on the City’s website for the electronic crowd. The citizens needs to see in writing what CR plans to do with the tax otherwise it will most likely fail due to misinformation. There will always be citizens that refuse any taxation on anything. But most of us are sensible and realize what needs to be done.

  3. At the risk of sounding like I support the LOST (which may or may not be the case), I am actually glad the council is being efficient with their meeting time and only spending the minimum required time during the meetings to hammer out proposed ballot language. The meeting should be about three things: making decisions; reporting out on designated topics; and comment/input time from the community for the council’s benefit. The council definitely should not waste that time fretting over “happys to glads” stuff.

    It is good to hear the council is verbally aligning to a dire need for possible use of 90% of the tax revenue. They do have to face what is more than just one person’s opinion about executing along those lines.

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