Saturday, August 18, 2007

Councilman Fritzler's Positon Paper

Courtesy of the Arbor District mailing list, here's Councilman Fritzler's official position on the proposed sales tax.

Raise User Fees or State Sales Tax for
Saluki Way
The mayor has proposed raising the city’s portion of the sales tax a quarter percent to give $20 million towards a new state-owned football stadium, a remodeled state-owned basketball arena, and other state-owned facilities, and a quarter percent to pay for discretionary city and non-city projects like new police & fire stations, and maintenance for Carbondale Park District which, like SIU, is a separate governing body from the city.
I have heard that this tax increase would be similar to the City of Marion raising their sales tax to help fund the Southern Illinois Miner’s baseball park to boost their economy. The economic impact of the Miners’ 51 home games is more obvious that five Salukis home football games. I have heard that we should support the increase because Carbondale needs SIU. I agree thatCarbondale needs SIU but, SIU provides jobs and drives the economy for the entire region not just Carbondale. In my first position at SIU, I was the only Carbondale resident out of 9 full-time employees. In my current SIU position, only 2 of 11 full-time employees are Carbondale residents. My SIU co-workers come from towns in Franklin, Union, Johnson, Jackson, Alexander, and PerryCounties, but mainly in Williamson County. If the best idea to fund Saluki Way is by raising the sales tax then the state portion of the tax should be raised region wide. However, since SIU students are receiving a fee increase of 14.2% and are responsible for at least 30% of the sales tax collected in Carbondale and received a 1% municipal sales tax increase on campus purchases last year and will not be around to enjoy a new football stadium, the “users” of the facilities should pay for the new facilities via increased ticket, merchandise, and concession prices.
Prior to the recent bridge collapse, the governor of Minnesota vetoed a bill to increase spending on infrastructure maintenance but supported funding a new baseball stadium for the Twins. With this in mind and also thinking about how we memorialize our fallen police officers and fire fighters rather than provide for their immediate needs, the Carbondale City Council needs to focus on providing a police station to replace the “temporary” facilities (abandoned student apartments deemed unfit for human habitation) that have housed the police department for over 30 years.
Having missed only a handful of Saluki football and basketball games during the last few years, I would love to see a new football stadium and a remodeled basketball arena. However, until the State of Illinois decides to pay for new city water/sewer lines, a city swimming pool, city building inspectors, or a new Carbondale Police Station, I feel that city facilities should come from city funds and the state should pay for state facilities.
The council will be voting on this issue at the Aug. 21 council meeting after residents have an opportunity for input.
Sincerely,
Joel Fritzler, Councilman
Carbondale City Council

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