To the Editor of the Maryville Daily Forum:

Since 2000, the citizens of Maryville have voted in favor of supporting sales tax: twice for the Maryville Community Center, twice for Mozingo Lake Recreation Park and most recently for capital improvement projects like repaving miles of streets and building a new Maryville Public Safety Facility. It has been two years since we voted in favor of renewing a 0.5 percent sales tax to support capital improvements. While the projects funded by this revenue source are an absolute necessity to the functioning of this city, we need to remain cognizant of the fact that the project debt assumed to cover this maintenance and improvement will be ours, as well as the next generation’s responsibility until 2036. It has now been 19 years since we voted in favor of building the Maryville Community Center and it will be another 10 years or so before it’s paid off. The same obligation remains for the Conference Center at Mozingo Lake Recreation Park and the soon to be Maryville Public Safety Facility.  

Here’s the deal as I understand it. 

1. Revenue from the local sales tax has continued to drop due to increased internet sales to out-of-state vendors. Shopping behaviors have changed, yet the tax structure remains the same. 

2. Other sources of revenue for the city, such as that generated by landline telephones, continues to drop from a peak of $80,000 in 2004 to just $33,000 last year. People have cut the cord moving to mobile communications. That is a decrease of more than $45,000 each year that will never be restored. 

3. Everything costs more today than it did yesterday, including labor. With the increase in minimum wage the city will inevitably and unavoidably have fewer resources to provide services. These factors could delay maintenance and repairs in order to ensure the level of service does not diminish. 

4. We are obliged to service the debt that we agreed to take on regardless of whether the use tax passes or not.  

We now have an opportunity to recapture a part of that lost revenue through the use tax. We now have an opportunity to tighten our belts a bit and make sure we are able to pay our project debts. The local sales tax rate is currently 8.6 percent. If a use tax is approved, the local sales tax rate will remain at 8.6 percent. The difference will be how we treat online purchases to out-of-state vendors. Period. The alternative is this: we kick it down the road for the next generation to deal with. I find that unacceptable as a citizen. That is why I am voting in favor of the use tax on April 2.

Thank you for your consideration,

Matt Johnson

Councilmember