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Libertarian Party urges ‘no’ vote on sales-tax increase

Editor, The Beacon:

The Libertarian Party of Volusia County recommends a “no” vote in the half-cent sales-tax increase special mail-in referendum of May 21, 2019.

We are concerned about both the timing and method of this referendum. It is likely that many thousands of voters will accidentally throw the ballots away thinking them to be junk mail.

This mail-in referendum is being pushed through as quickly as possible and lessens the opportunity for discussion and debate, impairing voters’ ability to make a wise choice.

We feel that the legitimacy of such a scheme is questionable. And, as it will cost “We the Taxpayers” nearly $500,000, we see no reason it can’t simply be added to next year’s regular primary ballot, other than to reduce voter participation and create a tax windfall for the county government.

We also believe that giving the County Council this half-cent increase will disincentivize them from spending our money wisely, or taxing equitably.

With the massive tax incentives they have given to large corporations to build here in recent years, should we really be footing the bill for their lack of vision and forethought? We think not, and so we urge your “no” vote.

Libertarian Party of Volusia County

DeLand


 

Danish happiness is based on civility

Editor, The Beacon:

I agree with David Rauschenberger that the socialism that works in Scandinavia won’t work here. I spent a school year in Denmark and visit almost every year.

Oprah Winfrey visited Denmark a while ago, and was surprised to be told that Danish happiness is not based on socialism, but on civility. Most people do not understand that a system that works for almost 6 million people, most of whom are related and have a common history, cannot be expanded and work for about 360 million mostly unrelated people from many different cultures.

Today’s Denmark grew from the World War II occupation, which put everyone at about the same starting point — poor. Some items were rationed until 1963.

The Danes of all classes in World War II started resistance groups to work together against the occupiers. Denmark has a history of inviting Jewish people and Huguenots to help build Fredericia and defend Denmark.

I was amazed when I was there to see the Jewish synagogue across the street from the Reformed Calvinist church. Perhaps the Danish people do have more respect for others and actively “Love your neighbor.” It explains why the Danish underground worked to save their Jewish citizens.

What makes Danish people happy isn’t based on high taxes and getting paid back in social services. It’s some combination of respect for family and friends, and love of God, home, country, and the Royal Family. Civility means respecting and caring for the old and sick, and families eating together.

Almost 1 percent of taxes goes to the Danish Lutheran church, or you can allocate the money to another religion.

The church performs the services of our vital statistics departments. Many people only go for baptisms, confirmations, marriages and funerals.

Everyone, including Muslim immigrants, must go to the Danish church to report births, etc. Denmark is highly unionized, which includes hospital workers.

Last year, my host family’s father was prescribed a medicine, to which he had a severe allergic reaction on a Friday. He couldn’t just go to an emergency room; he had to call the on-call doctor Saturday, wait for the pharmacist to return from dinner, and the prescription was ready by 7 p.m.

Tax is withheld on everything, including your unemployment payments and food, and there’s a really high rate on cars and gas.

The country has access to your bank records, prepares your tax return, and sends it to you. There are nine political parties, and I can’t figure them out.

On the other side, the homemade meals and eating with family and friends are great. People say “Tak,” thank you, a lot.

Ruth Ann Fay

DeLand


We shouldn’t have to pay for county leaders’ poor planning

Editor, The Beacon:

Can we say dog and pony show?

I attended the so-called “public information” meeting being held in Deltona about the proposed sales-tax increase. From a performance standpoint, I’d give the show a 9. Why wasn’t I happy and just as anxious as the presenters to dig into my wallet?

Well, there was something very important missing in the carefully orchestrated lecture. It was all about the need for more of our money. The panelists spoke of how there wasn’t enough for projects despite all of the previous tax hikes.

Oh, there was plenty of information available. There were detailed wish lists of all kinds of road and water projects available and charts and displays to show us taxpayers where this extra money grab is supposed to go.

The only thing left out were the apologies and fessing up to us residents that these leaders had screwed up. What have county leaders been doing with our tax dollars for the past 20 years, that we need all of these projects done now? Every one of the panelists seemed to forget that the answer to the question is a very key part of this special election.

This sales-tax-increase referendum and all these propaganda meetings are a shame. When voters wanted to vote on this issue last November, the Volusia County Council took it off the ballot. Are they trying to force something else on us, like they are doing with their lawsuit to overturn Amendment 10?

At the meeting I attended, none of the panelists explained why these projects hadn’t already been done with our tax dollars. The only thing they would address was what they were wanting to do with a little bit more of our hard-earned incomes.

When I pointed out that the Florida Legislature is right now moving to stop these kinds of referendums through SB 336, one of the panelists responded that the state is trying to take away our right of home rule. I ask you, does our County Council have the right to tax us without representation? That basically is what they are doing trying to sneak this tax increase on all of us.

It seems to me there was once a revolution fought over people not being heard and having their rights ignored. Have the Volusia County Council and their allies behind this sales-tax-increase-referendum forgotten who they’re supposed to serve? It’s about time the Volusia County Council started practicing smart and sustainable growth instead of expecting we, the people, to keep paying for their poor planning, special-interest projects, and funding mistakes.

Volusia County residents need to vote NO in the sales-tax-increase referendum. We also need to make sure that each and every one of our votes is counted.

Larry French

Deltona

— French is a historian and author of the book Grand Hotels of West Volusia County, which features hotels that played a role in Central Florida growth in the 19th century. He is a lifetime member of the West Volusia Historical Society and its former executive director, and currently assists his wife, Robin, in their touring business, Great Tasting Tours, which is based in historic Downtown DeLand.


Don’t rob the poor with sales-tax increase

Editor, The Beacon:

Sales taxes and gasoline taxes are regressive. They rob the poor to pay the rich.

Economics 101. They hit lower-income people disproportionately high.

That being said, there has never been a gas-tax or a sales-tax increase that our County Council, past and present, has not embraced wholeheartedly.

For example, we currently have the highest county gas tax allowed by law, and the highest in the vicinity.

County gasoline taxes (in cents per gallon):

Brevard 49.7

Flagler 50.7

Orange 49.7

Seminole 50.7

Volusia 55.7

The higher gasoline tax was “sold” to the voters as a solution to the road-infrastructure problem.

Now the County Council wants to rob the pockets of the lower-income residents again with an increase in sales tax, presumably to fix the road-infrastructure and water-quality issues, both brought on by the stress of an ever-increasing population.

These problems should be financed by impact fees.

Again, Economics 101. The building that causes the stress on the infrastructure and water quality should pay for the solution.

However, for the past 20 years or so, the impact fees on new construction have been kept artificially low, and lower than any others in the state of Florida.

The reasoning for this may be in the fact that I know of only one County Council member in the past 20 years who did not enthusiastically embrace each and every development proposed to the council, no matter the impact on roads, schools, the surficial aquifer from which we get our water, water quality, etc. This includes members from both political parties.

This may possibly have to do with the fact that the large developers in the area who stood to gain the most from low impact fees were generous with campaign donations and other “incentives.”

Now we have a stressed infrastructure, bad schools, a rapidly depleting aquifer, and seriously deteriorating water quality.

The solution from the current County Council is to pull the money from the pockets of the lower-income residents.

In order to get the liberal tree-huggers on board (and I am a liberal tree-hugger), the County Council added the water-quality issues to this tax program.

They wanted to blindfold us to the fact that this tax would affect lower-income people significantly more than the wealthy.

There are other solutions. Implement progressive taxes on utilities. Currently, due to a high fixed fee, the cost of the first 1,000 gallons or 1,000 kilowatts used is in many cases significantly higher than the cost of the 10th 1,000 gallons or kilowatts.

We reward the person who wastes our natural resources and penalize those who conserve.

Of course, impact fees could be raised to actually cover the cost of the infrastructure required for development. Progressive real estate taxes are also a possibility.

It is not necessary to rob the poor and stuff the pockets of the rich.

Elizabeth “Beeg” Camarota

DeLand

— Camarota has a master’s in economics and finance, having graduated summa cum laude from Baylor University. She is also a certified environmental planner and a member of the National Association of Environmental Professionals.


Rauschenberger is forgetful while resorting to name-calling

Editor, The Beacon:

David Rauschenberger (and the GOP) must really be in dire straits. He has resorted to name-calling and relying on a faulty memory to make a point.

In his March 7-10 column, Rauschenberger calls Michael Cohen a “reprehensible weasel,” while forgetting he’s also indicting the person (’rump) who employed Cohen for more than 10 years to be that special “liar,” “charlatan” and “snitch.”

Apparently, Rauschenberger has forgotten how U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton and other GOP’ers actually went to Iran to try to scuttle President Barack Obama’s treaty. But the mullahs had to educate them on U.S. protocol.

So, Rauschenberger called the Cohen hearings in America the cause of the breakdown in negotiations with North Korea, rather than the incompetence of ’rump and his minions.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un got what he wanted: “the most powerful … man in the free world” coming thousands of miles to meet with him! He wanted and got recognition for his impoverished nation as an equal to the USA.

So, we devolve into name-calling and blame-calling rather than cite the real reasons for this international humiliating failure.

Calling the opposition “the laughable House of Representatives” will do nothing to erase the powerful mission the voters laid at their feet: Bring accountability to the highest office in the land.

The only laughable exercise is the attempt to gloss over criminal behavior with mitigating terms like “process crimes.”

What it does is highlight the kind of people ’rump deems “the best people.” The judge in the Michael Flynn case was not exorcised by “process crimes.” He actually called Flynn’s behavior treasonous.

So, Rauschenberger’s column was little more than an attempt to obfuscate, to throw mud, to make us believe that our president is not a crook. For giving aid and comfort to a defender of a Russian attack on our election, the several GOP senators who are protecting ’rump should collect their due reward in 2020.

Julius C. Bennett

Deltona