No two words are less welcome in today’s political environment than "tax" and "increase." Even as the economy (allegedly) improves, governments are hard pressed to turn up additional revenue without passing the burden on to their citizens.
Nevertheless, we do agree with Argo mayor Paul Jennings when he says that the "fairest" of all taxes — if such a thing exists — is a city’s sales tax. That is why we believe the Council has taken the best step it could take, by voting to add an additional percent to the city’s sales tax, making it 4 percent and 10 percent overall.
Argo has struggled with its budget since before Jennings came into office in 2008; in fact, the City Council has typically passed its budget well after the beginning of each fiscal year. In virtually all of those years, the city has passed its budget with level funding, or made cuts in municipal departments, to meet the rising overhead costs.
Things are improving, however, and the city’s newest addition to its sales tax base — a Jack’s restaurant just off Interstate 59 — may create some momentum that will allow the figures to turn the corner. Improved sewer access – the city is partners with the Moody Governmental Utility Services Board for sewer service — and a positive outlook for growth along the I-59 corridor make city officials hopeful for the future.
The Council is making plans, as well. Jennings has outlined a plan that includes a $1 million line of credit for the city, for road improvements, park improvements, improvements at City Hall and purchase of property that might eventually become a new high school for residents of the area.
"I may be dead and gone by then," Jennings said. "But if we don’t plan, we’re going to miss out."
Sales tax increases will no doubt cause some grumbling among citizens, but the burden of the increase will largely be borne by travelers along the interstate or U.S. 11 stopping at area businesses. As the city’s sales tax base grows, that should mean increased revenues that the Council can invest in the future of its citizens.
Our hope is that a small increase in sales taxes turns into a huge net positive for Argo in the future.