Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sales tax measure had misleading description

My local county just passed a sales tax measure with this ballot description:
Countywide Library Improvement/Continuation Measure.To support and maintain local public libraries and library services through acquiring books, children’s educational materials, computers and technology; increase and improve children’s reading, adult literacy, senior and other educational programs; and upgrade local library facilities, shall Ordinance No. 1 of the Santa Cruz County Public Library Authority be amended to continue the existing ¼ cent sales tax for libraries with no increase?
The official pdf is here.

I think that voters were deceived. It was really a measure to make a temporary tax permanent. Ten years ago, we passed a sales tax increase to support libraries, instead of supporting them out of general funds. The tax was scheduled to expire in fifteen years. The vote this week was to prevent the expiration five years from now.

I guess that it is debatable whether to call this a tax increase or not. My real problem with the description is that it claims that the measure will increase library services and upgrade facilities, and do it at no increase in taxes. It makes it sound like we are getting something for nothing, and only a fool would oppose it.

It uses the word "increase" to have two opposite meanings. We are only going to get that increase in library funding five years from now, when we get the tax increase. Meanwhile, we get neither the increased funding nor the increased taxes. The deception is that the measure brags about increased funding that only happens five years from now, and then brags that there is no tax increase, hiding the fact that the tax increase kicks in after five years.

The libraries must have bribed whoever wrote the ballot summary. Someone should sue to void the election.

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