Forum editorial: Tax cut scheme unwise
Smarter heads prevailed Monday when the Fargo City Commission turned down an ill-conceived property tax cut proposal that was more political and ideological fluff than substantive tax policy. Commissioner Tony Gehrig, making good on his pledge to...
Smarter heads prevailed Monday when the Fargo City Commission turned down an ill-conceived property tax cut proposal that was more political and ideological fluff than substantive tax policy. Commissioner Tony Gehrig, making good on his pledge to advance his 20 percent cut (which, when the numbers are crunched isn’t 20 percent), was on the losing end of a 3-2 vote. He was joined by Commissioner Dave Piepkorn, whose grasp of the multifaceted municipal tax structure is probably not all that firm.
But even if Gehrig’s proposal had merit, it was ill-timed. Mayor Tim Mahoney made the cogent case that changes in taxes should be part of the city’s annual budget process. He said commissioners should wait to see how budget requests unfold before rushing to approve a tax cut. The mayor is right.
For example, the Police Department is seeking more officers and equipment to address the city’s geographical growth and an increase in crime. Flood protection work has accelerated as the city pushes to achieve Red River containment during all but a catastrophic flood, which can only be handled by the F-M diversion project. Old streets and utilities are being replaced at a steady rate, a reflection of the advanced age of the older neighborhoods in the city.
All of it is expensive. All of it constitutes keeping up with demand for basic city services.
It’s not perceptive or clever to toss out a tax-cut scheme without a vigorous and thorough discussion of potential demands on a new city budget. It might fly well among folks who think the city’s limited role is to make sure their streets are plowed first. But more enlightened residents of the city understand that the legitimate needs of a growing, successful city are more complicated.
Gehrig and Piepkorn might be sincere in their belief the defeated tax-cut plan is a good one. But it’s also true they are sincerely wrong.
Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.