Additional Articles by NWV Southern Oregon Edition
City of Grants Pass sales tax is about bailing out P.E.R.S. Not public safety
GRANTS PASS, OREGON. —In yet another attempt at bilking the public, a proposed sales tax by Grants Pass City Council and SOS is going to prove to be redundant at best. Nevertheless, what is the underlying motivation besides the obvious safety and fire reason given as an excuse?
Given the previous track record of this city and county, a sales tax would most likely be used to bail out the PERS (Public Employees Retirement System) program even though they claim the tax revenue is exclusively used for jail, fire, and essential services. But as you will see there are problems with the math that can be secretly exploited to bail out the faulty PERS program.
This time around, they want to eliminate the tax of the city property owner (not county) and directly tax the average consumer which creates an even bigger tax base.
There are many questions raised by this proposal. The most important question to ask: could this money be used to bail out the PERS retirement program? According to the editor Paul Walters the answer is a resounding yes! “Oregon’s unfunded PERS liability is already 16 billion dollars in the hole and about to get worse. Attempting to tax your way out of debt is like standing in a bucket and trying to lift yourself up by the handle.”
Oregon pays the price for flawed PERS, William Gary, The Register Guard
“The biggest flaw in the Public Employees Retirement System is not that its benefits are too rich. It is that its benefits are arbitrary, inequitable, and irrational.”
A sales tax will be nothing more than a tax on the poor. A sales tax would make some necessities for the poor even harder to acquire while they unwittingly are paying for a failed system of which they are not involved in namely, PERS.
A sales tax of any amount will drive customers away from the local merchants in our city sending them to Medford. Local merchants and businesses fuel our local economy. What is the rationale behind sending our customer base away to another city or county when we will be relying on the new sales tax to be collected?
In case the city council has not noticed, a growing number of retail shops downtown are empty. This proposed sales tax would place the tax management burden on the local stores that are still open. Less businesses equals less tax revenue. That means, the city will have to raise taxes on the remaining businesses again to keep the same amount of money coming in. Which means that more businesses are going to leave the city. In essence, what the city is doing is killing the goose that lays the golden egg. This can only happen if the voters are gullible.
According to documents released by the city, here is their summary of the proposed sales tax.
SUMMARY: This sales tax eliminates the following: the City local option property tax levy of $1.79 per $1,000 assessed value, the City Jail Utility Fee. It in turn implements a 1.75% sales tax starting July 1, 2016. (It appears that since the city officials live in the city, it would be against their better judgment to raise their taxes on their own property while trying to get money out of the public so they eliminate their property tax all together for themselves.)
This measure provides revenues to maintain Police and Fire Rescue services, reopens the Juvenile Justice Shelter/Detention building, increases criminal prosecution services, and allows the City to rent at least 30 adult jail beds. Revenues from the sales tax are restricted to use in Public Safety and Criminal Justice services.
Have you noticed the similarities of the levy proposal and this sales tax proposal? It is the levy resurrected with a few word changes and repackaged as a sales tax to make us think it is a fresh idea. But a tax, is a tax, is a tax. All the original intentions of the levy are here in this sales tax proposal and that includes the intentions to bail out PERS.
Why is this sales tax being proposed by an NGO, non-profit organization (privatized government) with our city finance director at the helm? Shouldn’t he be doing his job as our finance director instead of being the captain of the sales tax committee? This could be construed as a conflict of interest, because he is trying to raise funds to protect his own PERS while using his position in office and his NGO.
The city and county have spent thousands on how to present a tax or levy to the public so it will pass. Thereby, wasting more money as they will be once again, unsuccessful at their latest deception.
In the state of Oregon, there is no sales tax and to go beyond what the state allows will only trigger lawsuits and court hearings to determine the legality of a local sales tax. Has Jay Meredith and the city council done their homework? What are the legal implications statewide? Can the city be sued by the state or local citizens? This sales tax is just one of the typical S.O.S proposals to fund the jails and essential services as they approach the city this time, instead of the county with their tax scheme.
The following is from the SOS website;
Jay Meredith is the Captain of the SALES TAX COMMITTEE at SOS
Last updated: Monday, June 1, 2015
• Jay Meredith was the Captain of this Committee and many other SOS members helped study this. The Committee can be reached by email through the SOS address at SecuringOurSafety@gmail.com
• NOTE: This Committee suspended its work in 2013 when the county voiced that it would rather study property tax options. Also given recent local option property tax votes, the City of Grants Pass is considering studying the benefits of a sales tax through a separate task force.
• This subcommittee researched the feasibility of a general sales tax or the possibility of other unique revenues. The very preliminary sales tax documentation was created in 2013 for public input as there are many unique options available to our community that require public input. See this Subcommittee on Sales Tax – Web Brochure link for the basic discussion of the potential benefits of a general sales tax.
• Listen to the SOS Radio segment on the Sales Tax idea here: SOS Radio – Sales Tax Audio 9-1-12
SOS is a non-profit, Non-Governmental-Organization NGO (privatized Government), whose president is our city finance manager. SOS contains members of our city and county government that insists on taxing us with a levy or a sales tax.
According to the tax levy’s promotional documentation, here are the recommended major tax exemptions with editor side notes**:
• No tax on food for home consumption (no tax on unprepared food)… **Just restaurants and fast food sales will be targeted. Watch out sidewalk cafés and street food vendors!
• No Large dollar items: No tax on any single item sales over $1,000… **most working poor people aren’t going to be buying 1,000 dollar items anytime soon, so it looks like another tax break for the rich
• No tax on prescription medicine or medical/dental services (including childcare & elder care facilities) **Thank goodness, because these folks are already being raped by insurance companies, obamacare, and big pharma.
• No tax on items that already have a separate state/local regulatory structure: any tax on gasoline, alcohol, utilities, hotels, and others…**Define “others” it is too vague.
• No tax on any real estate services, property rentals or financial services (banks, insurance, others)… **Again, define “others”.
• No tax on any goods/services shipped or provided outside Grants Pass… **Does that include everything made in China and other foreign countries?
• No tax on business raw materials and no tax on business-to-business services…**Just a tax every sale they make on their finished product.
• No tax on activities in annual special events or nonprofit fundraiser events… **Does this mean concerts in the park, boatnik, the fair, the horse races, and the back to the fifties car show will be exempt?
• No tax on garage sales…**If they did this it would certainly sink them, but we know how taxing can change once it is let in the door. Agenda 21 wants to tax garage sales and this county is all about following the precepts of agenda 21 so it would be just a matter of time before they went there too.
Once a local sales tax gets its foot in the door, it will never go away as proved repeatedly in other states like California. In the blink of an eye, the initial 1.75% sales tax will turn into an 8% or higher sales tax further crippling our economy and buying power. The Chamber of Commerce is against this proposal as are most business owners and citizens.
What is this city going to do about its own frivolous unchecked spending habits? This should be the first question anyone should ask when the city or county asks us for money. For example, here is where the math has some grey areas that can be exploited by a secret PERS bailout.
If a person purchases a $5.00 item the tax would be @ .0175 * 5 =.0875 or eight and three quarters cents so how is the customer supposed to pay that amount unless you round it up to 9 cents at which point the tax exceeds its designated limit. You round down and that is a huge amount of uncollected revenue to lose. So where does it go? This is where PERS comes in.
Will anybody be watching where the three quarters of a cent will go, will it go uncollected (not likely) or will it be siphoned off creating unchecked off the books money? Mathematically ¾ of a cent will add up quickly to a sizeable amount in a year that can be used to bail out PERS and no one would be the wiser.
If you purchase something for $999.00 just under the proposed thousand dollar limit for another example, your tax would be $17.4825. So how is someone going to pay the quarter cent at the end? Is this amount going to be sent into the “off the books account” as well? All the customer sees is a tax of $17.48 the quarter cent is hidden.
A PERS bailout will be realized locally if this sales tax proposal is successful. The problem is the people paying for it won’t know they paid for it.
This is representative of what ¾ of cent can add up to, ¾ of a cent or .075 x 90,000 population county wide=$6,750 a day x 7 days=$47,250 x 4 weeks=$189,000 a month x 12 months=$2,268,000 so in two years they could pay off the 4.8 million debt for the local PERS. How convenient wouldn’t you say.
With few jobs or prospects where is the money supposed to come from? Our businesses are folding and leaving, so our current job situation alone will make a sales tax redundant. For the city, it is a simple equation, no businesses, no employees, and no sales taxes.
If the city were so inclined to create or lure jobs here to the richest and poorest county in Oregon, they might find: their revenue issues would diminish greatly, more people working, more people having more disposable income. When Kennedy was in office, he cut taxes by 50% and the revenue soared because the people had more disposable income.
Cutting business taxes will generate growth in the business and job markets and lure more businesses here to Grants Pass and Josephine County, thereby, creating even more jobs. The city has to give a little, to get more when it comes to taxation. If we want businesses to collect this tax for the city, then we will have to give businesses incentives such as: reduction in license fees, tax breaks, and inventive ways of making it easier to start a business here.
The city council, and commissioners, we elect to do our bidding also defy our wishes. NGOs’ like SOS somehow cannot conceive of the concept of the word NO. Nor can they see the fact that we need to come up with alternative plans of action for job creation without asking for a levy every year or its imposter, a sales tax, both of which are repeatedly shot down.
In order for us to help this city, in the next election, the people must vote for individuals who will have a plan for business promotion, tax breaks, and job creation instead of multiple attempts at taxation of the growing working poor.
NWV will reveal how your highly paid public servants want to:
1- Put meters on your well to monitor your water consumption.
2- The power company (working with the government) will install (by force) a Smart Meter on your house so they can monitor your electric consumption.
3- Fine you for burning wood to heat your home for polluting the air
4- Charge you for every mile you drive your gasoline or electric powered car.
5- Confiscate food storage from the people during a manufactured or natural crisis.
6 – Create a snitch society to turn your neighbor in for anything that the government deems inappropriate. (It’s called, “See something say Something”)
7- Create Community Oriented Policing.
All they need to accomplish this is your money and blind trust.
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