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Less cost now for new center

Record Courier Staff Reports

The second reading of the ordinance that will create a 1.5 percent utility tax in stages is before Douglas County commissioners on Thursday.

The 3-2 vote to approve the tax at the first reading was a close one and it only takes one person to alter that vote to change the course of the issue.

We support building a senior center. There may be better means of paying for it, but the Legislature permitted the county to approve a utility tax of up to 5 percent without going to a vote. Members of the Senior Center Advisory Council argue that waiting until a vote would delay construction of the center and increase costs.

Opponents argue that the tax should go to a vote, even though they’ve been paying a 5 percent tax on their cable bills into the general fund for some time without raising a whisper. At least the utility tax as discussed would result in building something.

They say the people already made their decision on Question 1 in the last election when they defeated a much larger package. We say again, this is not the same thing. And opponents would use the same argument during an election.

“We said no once and that means no forever.”

Well, that’s like being turned down for a raise. Just because the boss says no, doesn’t mean you can’t modify the request and ask again. That’s what commissioners have done here.

Others argue that the tax isn’t deductible like property tax. If there is a desire to convert the utility tax to property tax, then let’s put that on the ballot. If residents approve it, then they will be able to deduct the cost. If not then the tax remains as it is.

We know that solution won’t please senior center opponents. And frankly, that would convert the tax from something shared by virtually every resident of the county to one borne by property owners alone.

Our support for a new senior center stems from the need and the knowledge that a new center will eventually be built at a far higher cost, both in terms of funding and the damage delay will do our elder residents.