Clay County commissioners are asking county voters to approve a $200,000 tax increase at a time of high unemployment. That amount would be equal to a property tax increase of 1.4 cents per hundred dollars of value.
County commissioners have said the tax would help pay for a $10 million elementary school in Hayesville. The sales tax would only cover less than half of the annual debt payments for that borrowing.
Regardless of the county commissioners’ promises, all new revenues would go into the general fund and could be spent by commissioners for any legal purpose.
Taxpayers have little access to information on county government. The county does not have budgets, meeting minutes, or information about the proposed sales tax available online.
Since the special county taxing authority was established by the legislature in 2007, voters have turned down 68 of 85 requests for tax increases, sending the message that county commissioners must be more responsible stewards of taxpayers’ hard-earned money before voters will entrust them with tax increases.
Clay County voters should think twice before harming small employers with a tax increase proposed by a secretive county commission.