It looks like the City Council is sufficiently eager for voters to pass a local-option sales tax to help with flood recovery that the council will bite its collective tongue and again try to assure people who think the council can’t be trusted to spend the tax money correctly.
At its meeting this evening, the City Council will approve a resolution that specifies that 90 percent of the revenue from a local-option sales tax will be used “for the buyout, rehabilitation and relocation of flood-damaged housing.”
The tax is expected to generate about $18 million a year for the city in each of five years and three months that the tax will be in place should voters approve it on March 3.
Earlier, the council voted to use 90 percent of the tax revenue for flood relief and 10 percent for property-tax relief. The council-approve language on next Tuesday’s ballot reflects that earlier vote. Of the 90-percent of the tax revenue to be used for flood relief, the ballot language says the revenue will be used “for the acquisition and rehabilitation of flood damaged housing caused by the flooding of 2008, and matching funds for federal dollars to assist with flood recovery or flood protection.”
The language was designed to give the council some flexibility to use the money in the unlikely event that federal dollars, for instance, take care of more of the housing relief than the council now anticipates it will.
However, council critics were sure that meant the council would use the money in ways other than flood relief.
At last week’s council meeting, council member Justin Shields fumed about public distrust in the council and its intentions for the sales-tax revenue. At Shields’ insistence, the council, from member to member, assured that the money would be used to address the city’s couple-hundred million dollars in flood-damaged housing relief.
City Hall, then, issued a press release on Friday.
Earlier, the council voted to create a nine-member citizen oversight committee to oversee how sales-tax revenue would be spent.
Still people were questioning the council.
So tonight the council will pass a new resolution.
At last check, no one is calling for oversight committees and new resolutions to be passed by the Linn County Board of Supervisors or the city of Marion, for instance, both of which will also bring in plenty of tax-revenue should the ballot measure pass in those cities on Tuesday.