Friday, June 8, 2007

Coody's Tax and Spend Policies Exposed

The City of Fayetteville, relying on the regressive sales tax instead of a diverse source of revenues, now finds itself in the hole. Bad assumptions at work here, as city staff ignored the impact of the new mall in Rogers. Even the greatly increased appropriation from the state legislature this year cannot pull their chestnuts out of the fire.

Mayor Coody and his chief ciphers Gary Dumas and Paul Becker projected a budget that is heading toward a $1 million deficit for the year. Rather than cut expenses by reducing the bureaucracy, they want to raise our taxes to fund their follies. In the past, Coody always pushed the regressive sales tax to fill the treasury. Now everyone knows that didn't work, because it can't even pay off the bonds on the Mayor's $60 million cost overrun on sewer improvements, so now Coody and Dumas have a new screw to turn.

It looks like Developer Dan and his merry band have found an even more regressive tax. They want to raise your water rates to pay for new water lines out in the sprawlville of Jim Lindsey developments, specifically debt financing bonds to construct high capacity lines out in the high income wards on Highway 265.

The sales tax is regressive because it
causes lower-income people to pay a larger share of their income than wealthier people pay. The current Fayetteville water rates are even more regressive because it actually charges low-income people more than the wealthy business interests. A widow surviving on Social Security pays $2.81 per thousand gallons of water; industrial users pay only $1.60. There is no good reason why we charge retirees, students, and the working poor 75% more for basic necessities than we charge the Country Club to water the golf course; there are some bad ones.

Not only is this pricing scheme immoral, it also encourages waste rather than conservation of water. For all Developer Dan's fine speeches about sustainability, his policies put the lie to that idea. A flat rate for all water users would be more fair than the current rates; a progressive rate schedule would be even more fair and would encourage conservation. Let us hope that the City Council will consider this approach. It could lower basic residential water rates and also increase overall revenue, but it will take five votes to override a veto.

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