BOHICA: Chamber & County start agitating for another tax hike, regional unification

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The TEA Party folks say they're Taxed Enough Already, but several of them who might have run against a Democrat Tulsa County Commissioner (with plans to raise our county sales taxes once again) opted instead to run against Republican legislative incumbents who are working to reduce our state income tax burden. Oh, well.

The announcement waited until Commissioner Karen Keith was safely re-elected without opposition: The Tulsa Metro Chamber's "enVision Summit," to be held at Expo Square Central Park Hall, on April 27, 2012, 8:30 to noon, when normal people are at work.

power-grab.jpgThey say they have no preset agenda, but prominent mention of visits to Indianapolis and Louisville, the announcement of a former Nashville mayor as speaker, and a quote from one of the organizers saying "we are much stronger and can have greater impact if we operate as a region versus our independent cities and towns" suggests they plan to push for regional government and the end to the self-determination of those independent cities and towns.

Indianapolis, Louisville, and Nashville don't just have "cooperation" between local governments -- all three have merged city and county governments into a single entity.

And of course, they are already looking for a list of boondoggles they can use to justify a new Vision 2025 county sales tax, to keep the money flowing through the Tulsa County Industrial Authority (TCIA) and to its favored vendors.

Keith and Frank also said it is time to begin the discussion of life after Vision 2025, a county sales tax that ends in 2017 and has funded $530 million in area projects. What does an extension of a Vision initiative look like?

In 2003, they told us we had to "do something." Although the economy recovered long before the Vision 2025 projects were complete, we're to believe that Vision 2025 caused the recovery, which coincidentally happened everywhere else in the US at the same time. And of course, we're supposed to believe that the arena (voted for in 2003, opened in 2008) caused the Blue Dome District to start revitalizing in 2000.

We spent a half-billion dollars to "revitalize our region" and now they say we need to start planning to spend even more to "invigorate" our region. If you need to keep shocking a body back to life, at some point you have to acknowledge that it's actually dead, and "it wouldn't voom if you put 4000 volts through it."

In 2000 they told us they needed money to "fix" the county. In 2006 they needed even more money to "fix" the county. Either the county is fixed, and they don't need any more money, or they money we gave them didn't really fix anything, and the fix is in.

If city officials around the region really care about the good of the municipalities they're elected to represent, they need to show up on April 27 and tell the county to back off. Every penny the county takes for its pork barrel projects is a penny unavailable for each city and town to set its own priorities. This initiative is a threat to cities and towns having the means to fund basic services and infrastructure.

I would guess that Broken Arrow residents like spending their own sales tax dollars to fix their own streets and fund their own police department. I would further guess they'd be upset if Tulsa Money Belt types had the political means to redirect public funding from Broken Arrow's "parochial concerns" (driveable streets, low crime rate, pools open and parks mowed) to the Tulsa Money Belt's preferred projects.

If BA's council and other municipal officials ignore the real threat this initiative poses to local self-determination now, before it gets off the ground, they may find themselves in a year or two trying in vain to stop the idea once it gets buy-in from everyone who can make money or accrue power from consolidation. The only way to stop this foolishness is to follow Barney Fife's advice: Nip it in the bud.

Tulsa's city officials should take this seriously, too: City of Tulsa tax dollars are funding the Tulsa Metro Chamber, and the Chamber is turning around and spending money to promote a plan that would undermine the City of Tulsa's ability to fund local government and infrastructure. Money, don't forget, is fungible.

Maybe the TEA Partiers will stop searching the skies for black helicopters long enough to notice this local grab for taxes and power. I love what you say you stand for -- limited government, free enterprise, individual responsibility, local autonomy. The question is whether you'll stand up for those ideals when and where it really matters.

And wouldn't it be nice if Tulsa County Commissioners would content themselves to paving county roads, managing the finances of basic county government, and keeping their doggone hands out of our pockets?

(POWER GRAB parody image found here.)

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 15, 2012 11:56 PM.

Former Oklahoma Democrat chairman achieves notoriety in new state was the previous entry in this blog.

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