Monday, August 20, 2007

Yet Another Letter

This letter was sent from Kevin Graham with He makes a good point that sales taxes should remain at a generally steady level, however, they are prone to fluctuation, esp. over a 20 year time period.

Here's my take on this issue...

I believe this proposal has a distinct possibility of putting Carbondale in the unenviable position of being the "tax capital of Southern Illinois" within a five to ten year time frame. Not just sales tax mind you, but also the highest property taxes.

Assuming that our sales tax base will keep pace with city expenses is just that, an assumption. Here are a few local and national trends that should be considered.

1) Our reigning status as the premier Southern Illinois shopping destination is being challenged by our neighbors to the East in a big way. Some would consider it naive to think that the town with the highest rate of economic growth (Marion) will not eventually become the premier shopping destination for our region.

2) On a smaller scale, the new Wal-Mart is opening up in Murphysboro. Does anyone hear a sucking sound?

3) The company I work for (, offers an insight into a different and more unpredictable threat to brick and mortar merchants generating sales tax for their local communities. Every day, all across the nation, we capture sales that traditionally would have gone to these brick and mortar businesses. The ever growing web-based economy does not bode well for local sales tax coffers in our region.

So what happens, if, sales tax receipts don't measure up to predictions? The current third rail of Carbondale politics will then emerge. The dreaded (but perfectly normal for almost every community in America) property tax!

If the above scenario plays out, future city council members will be under great pressure to reach the conclusion that re-enacting the property tax is a must. At that moment we will become the "tax capital of Southern Illinois" with one of the highest sales tax rates and most likely, the highest overall combined property taxes.

Based on the above thinking, I agree with putting this to a referendum.

Your friend and neighbor,

Kevin Graham

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This is in response to all opposition.
The arena is used for more than sporting events or it was at one time. With the deteriorating condition many events have left for better facilities,the Home Show (DuQuoin), the spring Boat Show ( Maron), and many performing artists will not or cannot book there do to the condition of the building.
Every summer youth sports camps are held at all of the facilities.
The Special Olympics uses the football stadium. The annual highschool band competition used the football stadium as well.
With improved facilities many more organizations would be interested in using the nice and SAFE facilities.
All of these bring people to town to spend money and if they like their kids come to college here.

The wear and tear on the facilities at this time only dicouranges the physical plant workers from wanting anyone in there if it is not necessary.

I am uncertain of the number of years it took to build the Civic Center (10 or more). It was very controversial and many thought it was unnessary, myself included. I was wrong and so were the others in opposition. The Civic Center in Carbondale draws groups from other communities to Carbondale to hold events in that building due to its superiority over facilities in their own town. It is an example of investing in your community that has worked well.

We should not hold up progress due to our negative viewpoints or our anger with the State of Illinois. We should not wait to be taken care of as a community that includes and depends on SIU we need to take care of ourselves.
This tax will do just that. All of the projects are worthy and much needed.

In response to the proposal not stipulating the terms with the funds going to SIU. Apparently, the writer has never ask for to received funding from the city. I have and it is an involved process that requires negotiation and regular reporting. Jeff Doherty and the city attorney are not about to let this happen without checks and balances. I think you should ask what the terms are rather than assuming there are not any. Or perhaps requests your ideas be considered.

I do beleive the powers that be will find a way to tax what happens on the internet. Inforcement may be an issue but there is a black market everywhere.
Also, the postal service has accomodated the on the street businesses by making postal rates so high that shipping costs have become prohibitive on many items.

I will continue to spend most of my money in Carbondale rather the tax passes or not. I support this community all the time not just when I disagree with a decision.
Sam, I don't think anyone disagrees that the football stadium and arena are in need of fixing up. I *do* think people question 1) whether those are priorities on campus given the tens of millions in deferred maintance all over the place (which is alarming when you consider these are the main purpose facilities that drive the university) and 2) whether it is the city's responsibility for taking care of state property.

Just because something needs to be done doesn't mean that the city should do it. For example, do you think the city should take over ownership of the park district's golf course debt? An implausible example I know, but you should see the principal.
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