My View

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Sales tax a benefit for area

Taxes, taxes, and more taxes. The only two things for certain are death and taxes.

As a society, we have come to accept death (at least some people have). However, we seem to have a very difficult time accepting how we are taxed and how that money is spent.

As members of society, we have a tacit agreement to be taxed. We all benefit from government at every level. Our military is not free nor are our highway infrastructure or education. It may be a difficult fact to accept, but whether we feel we are the direct beneficiaries of government services or not, we have to pay for them.

The local option sales tax that is up for renewal in the special election Oct. 5 is one of the few taxes that will benefit all residents of Buena Vista County.

The presentation by Project Awaysis representatives last Wednesday night was truly remarkable. There is, indeed, something in the plans for Project Awaysis for everyone. It doesn't matter whether your idea of recreation is a luxurious hotel suite or tent camping. Project Awaysis has both. If you're a kid, there will be a new aquatic center, playground, and skate park. If you're a business person, there's the business district connection plus the spinoff from new people coming to town and spending money. If you're into recreation, there's the myriad hiking and biking trails throughout Storm Lake and eventually extending throughout Buena Vista County. If you like boating, there's the revamping of the Casino Beach marina. If you're a couple on a honeymoon looking for a romantic spot, there's the new lighthouse. If you're into history, there's the Cobblestone Lodge. If you're into nature, there's the Storm Lake Watershed Interpretive Center and Museum. And, if you live in rural Buena Vista County or one of the outlying communities (as I do), you will benefit from the $500,000 the Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors has pledged for driving and recreational trails that will bring tourism dollars to ALL of Buena Vista County.

The Oct. 5 local option sales tax ballot issue will NOT mean a new tax. It will mean the continuation of an existing tax. Yeah, it will continue to cost you a penny for every dollar you spend. So what. The point is that when we all pitch in together to do something, big things can happen. And, this time, a very significant portion of the local option sales tax will go for something of which everyone in Buena Vista County can be proud.

Renewal of the local option sales tax will mean that $4.5 million in bonds can be repaid with the tax proceeds. That means that the local option sales tax is a cornerstone of the whole Project Awaysis funding package.

In the past, the local option sales tax has gone for infrastructure improvements and a variety of other areas that may not be immediately obvious to the taxpayer. This time around we can see that Project Awaysis is very visible, visible to the point of the $29-million county-wide project that will result if everyone pitches in to put Storm Lake on the map.

Some may ask, "So what if the Vision Iowa grant isn't approved?" The point is that we don't know the answer to that question until sometime after Sept. 8 when the board meets regarding the Project Awaysis grant application. And the way Project Awaysis has begun a life of its own due to the massive infusion of volunteer effort, I would predict a very favorable reception by the Vision Iowa board.

Here's another way to look at it. FINALLY there's a project that our sales taxes will go for that will help EVERYONE in our area.

There really is nothing else like Project Awaysis in northwestern Iowa. Is it a big idea? Yes. So were the pyramids of Giza and Mount Rushmore. Just because they were big, that didn't keep people from building those.

I really think there's an analogy to Project Awaysis in the film Field of Dreams. I know we already have a ballpark by that name, but it's true, nevertheless...

If you build it, they will come...

* Mike Tidemann is an assistant editor with the Pilot-Tribune.