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Editorial: Scott County tax plan makes sense

Monday, January 26, 2009

Scott County voters are being asked to renew a half-cent sales tax for law enforcement that expired last year. The vote is Feb. 3, and county commissioners are offering a trade-off that appears both prudent and reasonable: the elimination of the county portion of real estate and personal property taxes.

The proposed half-cent tax would restore an estimated $1.6 million of revenue a year for eight years, and then the tax would again sunset unless voters approved another extension. Similarly, the elimination of county real and personal property taxes would be for eight years.

Backers of the sales tax proposal say it would result in an overall reduction in the total taxes paid in the county by many Scott County residents. They say the taxes being paid on homes, farms, businesses and vehicles typically is more than is spent on items subject to sales tax in the county. And two of the biggest purchases affecting most residents -- prescriptions and gasoline -- aren't subject to the county sales tax. A significant portion of the additional revenue would instead come from those traveling through Scott County who buy items other than gas.

In April 2007, voters turned down an extension of the sales tax. That vote also would have made the tax permanent. This year's proposal, with its sunset provision and elimination of the county's property taxes, should make this plan more appealing to voters.

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