Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 305
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for August 25, 2005

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Decision on the Wal-Mart sales tax to benefit the Hawthorne Development was postponed a week. From the looks of it, Wal-Mart is going to agree to the tax and thumb its nose at the folks who shop there. While the City Council was voting to put a sewer bond issue on the November ballot, attorneys for the developer and Wal-Mart were closeted in a back room at City Hall playing "Let's Make a Deal." In any case, they announced that they had an agreement in principle to create the Transportation Development District (TDD) and would present a final agreement to the city for approval on Monday.

The TDD would require people who shop at Wal-Mart to pay an extra 1/2 cent tax on the dollar on all purchases. It differs from other tax incentives because it places a direct tax on citizens, and nobody who pays the tax has the right to vote on the tax. Most of the money would be used to pay for streets in the adjoining Hawthorne development; there would be some improvements to access at Wal-Mart. In comparison, most developers and property owners have to pay for their own access and street improvements.

If Wal-Mart and the developer reach agreement, the tax is a done deal even without city involvement. Really. State law allows a TDD to be set up if all the landowners involved agree, and Hawthorne and Wal-Mart are the only two landowners involved (unless they added some existing city streets). I have no idea why the City Council would want to jeopardize the needed sewer system bonds by becoming a target for shoppers irate over a new tax - shoppers who are also voters.

Local Wal-Mart people don't have much say in the matter, and they're the ones who'll take most of the heat. The corporate big-wigs who make the decisions are insulated from the customers and won't be hurt. Who will be hurt are the working folks whose budget is already stretched by the cost of gasoline and the local cashiers who will hear their complaints.

Remember the movie "High Noon?" The citizens disappeared when their help was needed; likewise, nobody showed up to tell the City Council that this tax is WRONG. You can still show the outsiders that this town has backbone at the showdown on Monday, August 29th, 6 PM at the Municipal Building, 102 S. Holden Street.

See also Gadfly 301, Gadfly 303, Gadfly 304, and my statement to the City Council meeting on August 4th.

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