This Student Is the Only Person Eligible to Vote on Proposed Tax Increase. She's Leaning 'No.'

Democracy for the win.



Surely, this is the best thing to ever come of democracy: the city government of Columbia, Missouri, tried to subvert the democratic process by creating a new district where no one was registered to vote and the decision to implement a much-desired sales tax would default to property owners with a financial incentive to see it approved.

But the local officials working hard to make sure the city got its new tax have encountered a major problem: due to a loophole, a single resident is registered to vote in the new district. She's a University of Missouri college student, and she's skeptical that the tax is a good idea.

From the Columbia Daily Tribune:

On Feb. 28, Jen Henderson, 23, became the sole registered voter living within the community improvement district, or CID, meaning she is the only person who would vote on a half-cent sales tax increase for the district. …

The CID planned to hold an August election to enact a half-cent sales tax, projected to bring in about $220,000 of additional revenue for capital improvement projects. CID Executive Director Carrie Gartner said when CID officials contacted the Boone County Clerk's Office about holding the election, they found out Henderson registered to vote with her Business Loop address in February.

For more than a year and a half, as property owners in the "Loop" area worked to get the CID and tax increases established, they banked on that sales tax vote being their own.

When asked if the CID would be financially viable without the sales tax increase, Gartner said "no."

Gertner asked Henderson to forfeit her vote, which didn't sit right with the 23-year-old student. Now she's skeptical of the entire plan to hit low-income people with a sales tax just to benefit local businesses (and boost Gertner's salary):

The more she researched the situation, Henderson said, things "just didn't seem to be as good as they were saying to me at first."

Gartner "tried to get me to unregister, and that's pretty manipulative," Henderson said. "The district plan and the district border is manipulative, too."…

Henderson said she doesn't plan to give up her right to vote and feels negative about an increased sales tax — but has not made a decision about how to vote. Henderson said her concerns include vague project outlines, Gartner's pay, Business Loop improvements she said will help businesses but not nearby residents and how an additional sales tax would affect low-income people purchasing groceries and other necessities.

"Taxing their food is kind of sad, especially when" Gartner "is going to be making like $70,000 a year off of this whole deal," Henderson said. "These people make a quarter of that. They can barely afford to go buy food, and you're taxing their food."

I think even a principled anarchist could justify voting if he or she was in Henderson's shoes.