BILL CRAWFORD: City, county taxes need study, too

Legislators have been worse than reluctant to provide other options to local government for additional revenues.

Municipalities’ efforts to gain authority to implement local option sales taxes go nowhere. This year, a modest request to increase the portion of sales taxes going to municipalities from 18.5 percent to 20 percent passed the Senate unanimously and the House 109 to 11, but failed in conference as state revenue problems surfaced. The small increase would have been phased in over two years and the money targeted to infrastructure improvements – streets, bridges, sewers and such.

If legislators do conduct a comprehensive tax study, the study should include local governments. There are issues of fairness and sufficiency as well the impact on business development that should be reviewed. City taxpayers pay double for many services (e.g. law enforcement and government administration). Sales taxes in many small towns have declined substantially as the Walmarts and big box stores in nearby larger towns take customers away from local businesses. Counties face growing infrastructure and law enforcement challenges as more and more homeowners choose to live outside of municipalities.

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