The LERG in Monticello are preparing to begin an all-out onslaught on our common sense. The Advance released this week the first in an “installment” that seeks to account for the $15 million that the past 10 years of sales tax raised, but for me it raised more questions than it answered. I’m wondering if the Advance has been recruited as a promotional tool. So many of the businessmen that are backing this sales tax advertise with the Advance that they may not have a real choice.

There are no detailed plans for the expenditures of this proposed sales tax.

Unfortunately, at this point, I am growing more and more convinced that not only do we not need to extend the existing sales tax, but that the tactics that will soon be used by some of our city’s leaders are disconcerting.

In some recent minutes from a MEDC meeting, the following showed up as one of the topics:

Do not give the opposition time to prepare a defense.

Buttons have been ordered, and I suppose you’ll be able to recognize the LERG very soon by the shiny buttons they’ll be sporting all over town. Please remember that those buttons are saying, “We have no long-range plan for the city. We simply think the city will be unable to provide necessary services if the tax is not passed.” What services will not be provided is not answered. I have yet to understand from any conversations why so this minority of businessmen and members of the city council and mayor feel that the city cannot simply be run through normal revenues that every city brings in.

I’d encourage you to read the article in the Advance and then begin asking yourself, “Did we get our money’s worth?” Was it worth it? I’d also ask some strong “Why’s?” Was the $4.3 million that supposedly went to “economic development” well spent? Why does the city subsidize the MEDC and the Chamber of Commerce to the tune of $65,000 annually? The article says that $2.8 million was appropriated for the sports complex, but did all of that money get spent out there? On what? Here’s another thought: only $3 million of the total was spent on capital improvements. However, almost $1 million was spent by the MEDC building the SPEC building that still sits empty (and they’re still making payments on it). I’m sure that you can come up with your own questions, as well.

The plan to extend the tax another 15 years – with no definite plans attached to it is almost like saying, “Give the city a blank check for millions of dollars, and it will be spent it well.” After reading the first article, I’m not so sure. It’s also very interesting that just a short time before this special election, we are finally receiving details about how the money was spent. I’ve asked for that information for months for MonticelloLive, but never received it.

Please remember that we already have another one cent tax that goes to the county and another one cent tax that goes to the city. This sales tax extension is for the third cent that we’re already paying. In other words, we pay 6% for the state sales tax, 1% for county, 1% for city, and another 1% on this special sales tax. That brings our local rate to 9%.

Another thing that is VERY disturbing is the total lack of advance notice that the community is being given to participate in discussion about the sales tax. Yes, the LERG have fanned out across Monticello and spoken at the Rotary, Lions’ Club (next meeting), and other civic organizations and meetings, but it seems more of a sales job rather than a dialogue. However, the Advance that was printed last Wednesday (and most of us don’t get it until Thursday) announced two important and serious opportunities to discuss with the Community Design Center from Fayetteville. However, when were the meetings scheduled? For last Thursday at 6:00 p.m. and that Friday at 5:30 p.m! For most of us, it becomes nearly impossible to participate on such short notice. It’s almost like they want to be able to say, “Well, we did have meetings, but not many showed up.”

It just doesn’t sit right. Oh wait, I forgot… if the strategy is to “not give the opposition time to prepare a defense,” then it makes perfect sense.

Personally, I’d like to keep a little more of my money and ask the city to scale back, if need be. Until we see our county officials and our city officials begin to sit down and work together for the future of our community and region, I don’t think it’s time to pass another sales tax. Give us a break. No plan, no tax.

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