A Dedicated Revenue Stream Slush Fund

A sales tax initiative is on the ballot in the state of Missouri. Roads and bridges are in disrepair, and the only way to solve this crisis is to levy more taxes upon the citizens.

At this time of great need and penury, it’s good to see the city of St. Louis writing its letters to Santa before the tax passes instead of after:

Bike paths. Street cars. Sidewalks.

That’s the wish list released on Monday by Mayor Francis Slay, meeting a state deadline to submit projects for the proposed sales tax to fund transportation projects.

The city’s list of $268 million in projects is a dramatic shift from most other places in the state; a wish list that focuses on pedestrians and less on building more highways and bridges.

“Only 25 percent of it goes to old fashioned roads and bridges,” said Jeff Rainford, Slay’s chief of staff.

So they’re already bragging that they’re going to spend this DESPERATELY NEEDED FOR SAFETY money on fluff appealing to the small new-urbanist population that makes its downtown lofts home.

The Bed of Nails Tax Was Not On The Ballot

Hotel Motel Tax Builds Bed of Nails at Discovery Center:

Each year visitors to Springfield pay a small tax when they stay at a hotel or motel.

Some of those dollars are earmarked for the Wonders of Wildlife museum.

And even though museum doors have been closed since 2007, taxes are still collected.

The funds collected prior to 2011 have been donated back into the community, but the money collected since then is now being split up between nonprofits in Springfield.

Each year about 300,000 dollars will be available for projects that promote tourism and education.

In 2013, the first year for this program, four local organizations received funds, including the Discovery Center.

It’s not the most comfortable bed, but it’s more for education than rest.

The newest feature at the Discovery Center is called the Bed of Nails.

When these hospitality taxes are put on the ballot, as they often are, they’re often pitched as ways to get people to visit your fair municipality. They’re not often cast as ways to soak non-residents to subsidize a selected industry and to provide fungible funds for frivolity, but that’s what they are in truth.

Do you think you could get a Bed of Nails Tax on the ballot and to pass? Of course not.

Do you think you could get this sort of tax repealed? Of course not. After all, non-residents who pay this tax don’t get to vote, and the regional chamber of commerce and hospitality trade organizations and lobbyists will be present and loud in support of it.

This ratchet so often turns but one way.

You Will Keep Doing It Until You Do It Right

Another electoral defeat for a tax increase just leads to a sequel, as the Christian County Library Board reanimates the undead and tries to get it on the next ballot:

The Christian County Library Board is expected to decide this month whether to send a proposed property tax increase back to voters.

If approved, it would help build three libraries.

Library Director Mabel Phillips said the board met Nov. 20 to discuss the possibility of putting the issue on the April ballot.

It was the board’s first meeting since 52 percent of voters rejected a proposed property tax increase during the Nov. 3 election.

Hey, you know what worked for the Webster Groves Public Library? Getting the tax increase on a February ballot, where most people wouldn’t know it was an election and those who did might decide not to brave 15 degree weather to vote.

Mark Their Words

Cigarette tax just the start, some say:

The state’s pursuit of more than $1 million in back taxes and penalties from online cigarette customers could hint at the Department of Revenue’s plans to go after taxes on computers, books and other goods bought over the Internet, tax attorneys and analysts said Wednesday.

Department of Revenue officials disputed that speculation, saying they would pursue only online cigarette customers.

Sure, those particular officials say that now. But in a couple years, Wisconsin will have a different set of officials whose priorities will be to raise even more money, and the precedent–getting back taxes for Internet sales–will have been set by their predecessors.

So how much have you bought from Amazon in 10 years? Plus interest, thanks.