On one hand, this spring’s ballot question concerning the repeal of the sales tax on food items in the City of Cottonwood is a real no-brainer.
Are you kidding? Of course we want to do away with sales tax on food. We want to do away with any and all taxes we’re forced to pay.
Likewise, one can’t argue with the position that a sales tax on food puts an unfair burden on senior citizens who live on fixed incomes, or the poor. Over the course of a year, the sales tax these folks pay for groceries could put a few more much-needed meals on the dinner table.
But on the other hand, this issue deserves considerable study from voters who are willing to look beyond the immediate impact on their pocketbook.
The services provided by the municipal government in Cottonwood are financed largely by the sales tax the city collects. Cottonwood does not levy a property tax. Its government is driven by sales tax. The revenue received from the city’s three major grocery stores pays for police and fire protection, street maintenance, library services, parks and recreation programs, parks and all the other fine services available in Cottonwood.
Now, if Cottonwood’s leaders had a reputation for frivolously spending taxpayer money, we’d be among the first in line cheerleading this repeal of the food tax. But that’s not the case. Frugality has long been the unwritten but daily rule practiced by the city government in Cottonwood.
This ballot issue is not as cut-and-dried as it might seem. The temptation is always great to do away with any form of taxation.
But in this case, we very well also may be eliminating some of the services and programs that make Cottonwood such a great place to live.