Optional sales tax would be a more fair way to fund school projects

Published 12:38 am Sunday, May 21, 2017

All of us with children, surely want them to succeed in school and in life.

But we can’t use them as pawns and call it economic development. Just as we can’t call recreation economic development.

Much has been written and said about Tuesday’s vote of the $35 million school bond issue to build, renovate or demolish every public school building in Adams County.

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The reasons range from air conditioning making children sick, to poor laboratory facilities to poor internet service to too much glass at the high school causing student distractions and safety issues.

Also, what has been said  is that new buildings will instill pride in the students, hence stronger commitment to studying, resulting in better test scores. It’s said new buildings will make recruiting new teachers to the school district  become more successful.

Behind it all, what we have heard for years and years is that the reason we don’t have real economic development, that is industries, factories, plants, small businesses choosing to locate to Adams County is because of the poor public school system.

Some of all of the above is true. Some is not true.

I do appreciate the hard work and the new direction the current school board is trying to take the school district, as opposed to the horrendous immediate previous administration and school board.

But I do think, the current school board is over ambitious with its construction goals and are treading in very dangerous, damaging waters for the economic future of Adams County with the proposed spending of a total of $43.5 million  dollars of construction/renovation projects.

Not to mention possibly another $3 million in annual operating expenses. This is called living beyond our means.

Raising taxes at such a huge swat is financially dangerous and is not how you attract economic development to our area. It’s been a common misnomer for decades when it comes to justifying raising taxes. Elected and appointed officials always use the example: it’s only going to cost a home with a $100,000 value $99 a year.

But what is never said is there are five tiers, five classifications, of taxable  property in Adams County. Not just your home. It ranges from 10 percent for homestead property to 30 percent for industrial property. That means not only, will taxes go up on your home, it will also  go up on all your car tags, your four wheel trailer tags, boat trailer,  motorcycle and  motor home tags.

If you own rental property  it will be hit with full property taxes.

It won’t stop there.

Mobile homes taxes, business inventory taxes, industrial/plant taxes, apartments taxes, the shopping malls, the food markets, all restaurants, neighborhood stores, the mom and pop shops and all of downtown Natchez will see a big increase in taxes.

Who do you think will absorb all of these taxes increases and cost of goods and services? It’s us, the user, the consumer.

Rents will go up, food prices will go up, clothes up, all real estate taxes up.

This is not the way to attract industry, plants, small businesses, construction, retirees and spur on entrepreneurial pursuits.

It’s not a week that goes by that I don’t talk to or hear about or see someone leaving Natchez for a better quality of life elsewhere.

Let’s don’t give them another reason to leave Adams County. Or another business not move to Adams County.

But what about the schools? Let’s help the schools.  They need it. I think we should live within our means.

Look at the whole economic picture here. The citizens of Adams County should scrap the hurried bond idea and vote “No” and start over with the process. The energetic and eager school board should go back to the consultants and architects and propose a 5-10 year “phase in” to upgrade the school buildings and facilities that’s needed. That way we can pay as we go.

Another more fair way to finance the construction/renovations of the school properties would to be to do as I mentioned above, scrap the bond issue idea and vote “No.”

Then the school board could go back and propose to the voters a more fair tax.

It’s called an optional sales tax.

This tax could be an increase of one cent to the already sales tax of seven cents on the dollar. That way, no properties are taxed. Everyone, no matter who, pays exactly the same tax at point of sale and purchase of goods.

The tax will pay the debt and stay in place until the debt is paid in full. When paid in full the one cent sales tax then drops off.

That is a fair tax and the school children are helped at the same time. Raising the millage tax is not a fair tax and will hurt economic development in Adams County.
Henry Watts

Adams County resident