Mantra of the Times: No Taxation without Increased Services
No taxation without representation.
That motto sent the 13 colonies on a collision course with Mother England more than 225 years ago.
Civilization comes with a cost, as does living in a beautiful place with a high quality of life like Chesapeake Country. That price is taxes, as inevitable as death.
But today in Chesapeake Country, during a time of economic uncertainty, the mantra should be, No taxation without increased services.
Recent proposals by Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer and Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens to levy new taxes on We the People in a time when everyones wearing a tighter belt after the heydays of the dot-com 90s ring of government intrusion into our wallets.
In Marylands capital city, the mayor is in a tough spot as construction begins on both the Rowe Boulevard bridge and the Weems Creek bridge leading into town. Combine this with the final stage of the West Street redevelopment plan, which will close the road from the corner of Calvert/Cathedral streets down to Church Circle. So now the mayor must find a way to, one, pay the citys share of these repairs (state and federal transportation funds cover the greater cost), and, two, alleviate the traffic and congestion thats sure to come.
Originally, the mayor proposed increasing by one percent the sales tax on downtown eateries. She quickly recanted her suggestion, calling for further studies and hinting that, in fairness, all downtown businesses should be taxed that additional penny on each dollar charged.
Sure, you say, lets make the tourists pay. But a walk down Main Street and a tally of the vacant storefronts should be enough to show that already merchants are having a hard time of it. Making their customers pay that much more to patronize their shops is not the answer. Rather, its a good way to send those customers elsewhere, outside of city limits.
What the mayor needs is a plan to grow the businesses she has and to lure new ones into those open storefronts. More patrons in downtown shops amount to a greater revenue for all. More foot traffic equals more sales. More sales equals more appeal for new businesses. All amounts to more revenue for the city. Thats why events like the U.S. Boatshows and the Volvo Ocean Race are such win-win boons for the city.
The motives behind a recent proposal by Executive Owens to tax by six percent all county cellular phones are less worthy. She would use this additional levy to fund more police and firefighters.
Sure, who isnt for law and order? But what about education, which is again under the budget ax? The county fire department is still under a dark cloud for bilking tax coffers of millions of dollars last year to pay for firefighters overtime many of those extra hours spent on unauthorized building projects that in no way related to fighting fires.
Are we to believe that the massive popularity of cell phones in the county and beyond has added to crime and traffic accidents so much that we need more police and firefighters? If so, why not tax that fellow you saw shaving while behind the wheel? Or what about that young woman applying her makeup? Or that mom in the minivan munching on a Big Mac on her way to pick up the kids?
A cheap cell phone bill costs $30 to $40 a month. Thats $1.80 to $2.40 each month that Ms. Owens would take from your wallet. And if you use a cell phone for business or in place of a land line at home, it adds up to a lot more.
The idea of these new taxes make us wonder a couple things. First, how often does Mayor Moyer eat and shop in downtown Annapolis? Second, who pays for Executive Owens county cell phone?
As our friend Bill Burton would say, if you know the answer, its not a question.