Sales tax

Dear editor:

The article in Saturday’s paper about the homeless tent city in California was an interesting read. I guess we should consider ourselves lucky our long winters discourage such encampments in our area, but maybe it’s only a matter of time; there’s some really nice camping equipment out there these days and if you’re prepared ahead of time, people could survive. People will survive.

Every time there is a big layoff from any employer in our county, we lose a valuable chunk of workforce as people make their exodus away from here in pursuit of employment stability. The layoffs pending in the Warren County School District are especially detrimental; we are shooting ourselves in the foot furloughing local people who pay taxes into this county.

The stack of local property foreclosures seems to get thicker as time goes on, as the delinquent tax pages of shame increase every year. Bankruptcies abound. People leave; the tax base shrinks until the inevitable tax increases get put into place to make up for the losses. Public service workers get laid off so the powers that be can meet budget restraints. This leads to more foreclosures and lost tax revenues as more of the workforce leaves. When taxes increase again, more people will leave; the vicious cycle goes on.

It is easier for people to be oppositional than solution oriented, as evidenced by the lawmakers of our federal government. I don’t know if the idea of a local sales tax to support our school district has ever been officially proposed, but before you instantly reject the concept, consider how much your mortgage payment will be decreased when your escrowed taxes decrease by half; your annual property/school taxes will just about be cut in half.

The possible increase in tax revenue based on sales would enable public servants to keep their jobs, continue to work, live, raise their families and spend their money in Warren County. I don’t have access to the numbers to estimate just how much a sales tax would need to be, but it shouldn’t be more than a simple matter of dividing how much we need by the collective sales revenues of Warren County; I’m guessing it would be a small, barely perceptible percentage. For example, let’s say it’s only a half of a percent. That would equate to paying only 50 cents on every $100 a person spends here, yet possibly generate enough tax revenue to sustain our school district.

Plausible exemptions on this tax would include food items and clothing. Perhaps a cap limit on large purchases such as real estate and automobiles would be in order, so as not to discourage local commerce depending on sales revenues originating outside the county.

This plan would ease the property tax burden of the shrinking workforce struggling to support the increasing populace of the non-working people of the county. Considering how many of our working class feel they are marooned in Warren County because they waited too long to leave, how long will it be before the tent cities begin springing up around here?

Can’t afford to leave; can’t afford to stay. Will the homeless shelters be able to keep up? How many more of our workforce will end up in non-revenue generating subsidized housing? How long will it take before our area finally perishes a death of a thousand tiny cuts?

Donna Capello