Sales tax increase proposal: Preston responds to Steele

Staff Writer
Geneseo Republic

In his viewpoint letter of 18 January, board member Tom Steele is correct in stating I was the only dissenting board member to oppose the latest sales tax referendum.

Going back to April 2009, I again was the only dissenting vote for the sales tax referendum. When the vote was cast, 57 percent of the voters opposed it.

Going back to Nov 2008, another sales tax referendum was placed on the ballot by the Henry County Board members. Again the voters of Henry County rejected it. The purpose of that 1/2 of 1 percent sales tax referendum was for “public safety.” No mention was made of the need to repair the courthouse, not even a whisper. Tom Steele was a supporter of that referendum.

Now 14 months later, Mr. Steele would have us believe the courthouse will fall into a pile of dust if we don’t pass his latest version of a sales tax referendum. That won’t happen.

With reference to my statement regarding deficit spending, I stated in my viewpoint letter that Henry County general fund reserves will be depleted in 2011. Mr. Steele’s response was, “No. Not one person on the board has ever indicated such a scenario. To make such a statement is a wild distortion of the facts.” We have a $1 million reserve in the general fund; $500,000 will be depleted in 2010.

Lisa Hammer has an article in the 13 Nov. 2009 issue of the Dispatch pertaining to the Henry County budget deficit of 2010. In that article she quotes Finance Committee Board Member Jerry Thompson as saying, “If you think it’s bad this year, unless we get some income it’s going to be tougher next year.” He made that statement at the Nov. 2009 board meeting. Mr. Steele was present at that meeting. Mr. Steele’s “fact letter” needs some rework.

Mr. Steele voted for the 2010 budget that has a $500,000 deficit. I’m sure that he will also support the 2011 budget that will deplete all of the reserves in the general fund. If you like higher taxes and deficit spending, then continue to support Mr. Steele. He will be happy to help you.

The voter needs to look past the “soft sell approach” and remember the referendum will impose a $3.9 million liability on Henry County. We are already on the path of deficit spending; we can’t afford to incur more debt. We can make repairs in a timely manner when funds become available. We can start by using the $240,000 in the restricted fund that Mr. Steele’s Administration Committee originally intended for construction of a parking lot.

Bill Preston, Henry County Board Member