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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Protestors: Repeal the Med Mart tax and put it on ballot

Posted By on Thu, Mar 6, 2008 at 12:37 PM

Zack Reed: It's time to fish or cut bait
Now that the Medical Mart/ convention center deal is on the rocks, City Councilmen Zack Reed and Brian Cummins, along with their pals at the citizen’s group Put in on the Ballot, are back on the protest train. This morning they braved the frigid steps of the county headquarters to rail against the sales tax increase, approved by the commissioners last summer, to pay for a deal that has yet to materialize... The deadline for Mart reps and county negotiators to reach a deal is up. But Commissioner Tim Hagan told Reed he wants to give them another week to hash things out. Apparently, months of talks haven’t been enough to convince the Mart reps to pony up enough cash of their own. But Reed and his fellow protestors are tired of waiting. They collected over 20,000 petitions last summer, urging the commissioners to let voters decide whether they wanted a sales-tax increase. Since approximately four people are in favor of paying for a new convention center, the chances of such a proposal passing would be slim. But they failed to get enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot. Now they’re trying again. They want the commissioners to repeal the tax in July, and then ask the people in November if they want to reinstate it. By July, the group estimates the county will have collected $33 million from the tax — and built nothing. “There comes a time when you’ve gotta fish or cut bait,” Reed says. “This tax keeps going forward for a project that may never come.” Ironically, some of the protestors were late for the gathering due to a giant sinkhole caused by a water-line break at Public Square. Perhaps there are more pressing things we could be spending our money on. – Lisa Rab


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