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Who pays?

Dear Editor:

Who has the say, and who has to pay, on sales taxes? It is well known that the County and Town share all of the sales taxes collected 50/50. That is a good thing. But, for many years County leaders and our staff have worked under an unquestioned assumption, and sometimes direct warnings and threats, that getting our portion of the sales taxes hinged on an agreement with the Town, that could be revoked at their discretion. This has historically had a kind of muzzling effect on the BoCC (myself included) in many Town issues impacting all the residents and taxpayers of the County. So I did a little digging.

It turns out that the 50/50 sales tax split between the County and Town is not by any agreement, but is actually completely protected in the original ballot language that established the sales taxes in the first place. Each of those tax increases was put to a vote of the whole County and Town. My hope is that this knowledge might get the Town Council back to the meeting table with the BoCC, and change the tone of future Town/County discussions to one more of the equal partners we so desperately need to be to thrive going forward.

Nearly all of the sales taxes we pay are collected in the Town due to the annexation of most of the commercial areas in the County. Visitor spending accounts for a good share of the total of the sales taxes collected, but the fact is that County families pay fully half of all sales taxes, and more than 80 cents of every $1 collected from all local residents and business owners. We owe it to those folks to speak up for them on Town issues.

Michael Whiting

This story was posted on January 9, 2014.