Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 71
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for November 30, 2000, published December 14

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Dear Editor

Thanksgiving is over and we’re in the heart of Christmas shopping season. One big holiday movie is based on a Dr. Seuss book about a grinch stealing Christmas. At the risk of being a grinch myself and stealing away some holiday spirit, I’m going to talk about another grinch lurking to steal from all of us – taxes.

The property tax bills are out and, miraculously, no taxing body in the Warrensburg area raised rates. This may not be the case in the future, as we hear of various bodies needing money. When we approved the rollback waiver for the Warrensburg R-VI school district a while back, we gave them a blank check to raise rates (within certain limits) without further vote. Given any shortfalls in state money due to possible economic slowdown, they’ll be sorely tempted to do so.

The City of Warrensburg continues to moan about revenue shortfalls. The Parks Board may want to promote a sales tax to support the Taj Mahal (Community Center), since a property tax to operate it was voted down when it was built. Meanwhile, the City will postpone some street maintenance since they’ve overspent in past years. The proposed bus service will require tax transfusions from the city, since it’s not even envisioned that it will be self-supporting.

The County Commission is cutting cost overruns in the design of the “Palace of Justice” at the corner of Gay & Holden (it may end up the “doublewide of justice”). In a pre-election interview, a newly elected commissioner suggested finding another source for money to make the road paving projects go faster, as the use tax revenue isn’t coming in as quickly as expected. The Sheriff wants a new jail and office, which will require a bond issue and a new tax to pay off the bonds. Let us not forget the new Trails Library, which will likely require bonds to build and perhaps a levy increase to operate.

Meanwhile, we’ll see little tax relief at the Federal level, since the November elections provided no party with a clear mandate for its plans and much of the supposed surplus has already been frittered away in election-year pork barrel spending. The state, too, lacks any clear mandate for the governor or legislature. Locally, Warrensburg’s sales tax rate is among the highest in the state.

There is one bright spot. Every agency (public, semi-public or private) that receives or spends tax money is subject to Missouri’s sunshine law, which means that certain records and meetings are open to public scrutiny. So if you have questions, be a grinch and get in there and scrutinize!

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