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Posts Tagged ‘Carol Martin’

No to local-option sales tax vote March 3, says group called Cedar Rapids Tea Party

In City Hall, Uncategorized on February 12, 2009 at 3:30 pm

There has been quite an outpouring of organized support as the March 3 vote approaches on a 1-percent local-option sales tax.

The City Council supports it. There’s a local grass-roots group, Vote YES! For Our Neighbors. The Chamber of Commerce, Downtown District, Hawkeye Labor Council, the Next Generation Commission, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and on and on.

That surely doesn’t mean there aren’t opponents.

Tim Pugh, who identifies himself as a 32-year-old small business owner, is leading a group that calls itself Cedar Rapids Tea Party.

Pugh says he has about 75 people who have signed for the cause to date.

He handed out a flier at the Wednesday evening council meeting: “Now is NOT the time to get LOST,” the flier reads. LOST, of course, is local-option sales tax.

The 1-percent tax is expected to raise between $18 million and $24 million a year for five years and three months, with 90 percent going for flood relief and 10 percent for property tax relief. Cedar Rapids Tea Party says the portion going to property-tax relief is “pennies for Homeowners.”

The group wants the city to cut waste in its budget, not raise taxes. The group says the city already has “squandered” flood relief funds.

Carol Martin, the well-known critic of City Hall spending, also is organizing a network of sales-tax opponents separate from Tim Pugh’s group.

Two efforts focused on the same message is a good thing, Martin said Thursday.

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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.”