Tuesday, July 31, 2007

And on the Flip Side

The editorial page of last Sunday's Southern Illinoisan came out with a counterveiling opinion to Gorton and Adams. Read it here. My immediate thought was that the examples they cite are close but not exactly representative of the situation here. In two of the cases cited, it was a municipal entity taxing itself for the direct benefit of its citizens and, in the third, though it's close to the situation here, a lot of the money floating around the Miner's seemed related to pork barrel politics rather than a true civic need.

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Well.....I'd say the Arbor District op-ed piece was the flipside to the Southern's editorial, not the other way around (that's why they call them "op-ed" pieces)...but to the issue itself:

I surely don't always agree with Brad, but this proposal seems sound to me:

1. Being "unprecedented" is not a sound reason to reject a proposal.

2. In theory, I can appreciate the argument that says such a sales tax should not help fund a "state-owned facility." But in practice, McAndrew and especially the SIU Arena are community/regional resources and revenue generators and it is in the best interest of the city of Carbondale, the business community and the citizenry in general to partner with the university to protect and enhance the investment. For instance, I am old enough to remember the boost to the economy the Carbondale Holiday Tournmanet, held at the SIU Arena, gave to the community in the early years of the SIU Arena. The Arena venue, outdated and worn, is no longer such a draw to marquee high school teams throughout the midwest. I can also remember first-rate concerts held regularly at the Arena which brought thousands of people to Carbondale for food and lodging, and to a lesser degree, general merchandise shopping...those events are now few and far between. The portion of the new sales tax that will help fund Arena and McAndrew renovations is an economic investment for the community, not just the fuzzy, rah-rah, donation some have stated it to be.

3. Some oppose the proposal because they say SIU students will be double-taxed. Well, students ARE residents of Carbondale, at least during the years they are in school, and they receive the same benefits as other citizens --- fire protection, police protection, other services funded through the city's general fund, etc.-- irrespective of how the tuition rates are set.

4. As to the suggestion by the Arbor District leaders and others that the matter should be decided through a referendum, I say: we just elected a mayor and city council members. By doing so, we've already said we trust them with their approaches to the community's challenges. The time and expense to hold a referendum, which more than likely will turn into another nasty fight between Cole-lovers and Cole-haters, will not be money well spent.

This sales tax proposal is the best approach to addressing several challenges.

I just used that heading because I posted the Arbor District link first. Downside of reading stuff online is that you only see what th elink brings up.
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