Monday, June 29, 2009

Breaking: Council Members Issue Formal Request for Ordinance

Ordinance request seeks more transparency regarding sales taxes charged at businesses within the City

Councilmen Nicholas Ibarra and Doug Burlison issued a formal request to City Manager Greg Burris, City Attorney Dan Wichmer and other members of City staff in Springfield on Monday. The request calls for more sales tax transparency within the City of Springfield on behalf of their constituents.

In a post at Mr. Ibarra's Web log, "Zone 1 Matters," he noted the discussion needs to be more than a secondary issue when the Council is faced with other issues, "...the following was submitted to City Staff this morning, taking the first step in bringing this topic to the table as a debate in and of itself, rather than a side conversation while dealing with other topics as the basis of conversation," Ibarra wrote.

The request is not very specific or detailed regarding the way in which the sales tax notifications to the public might be posted at Springfield businesses and, while Ibarra did not want to be perceived as speaking on behalf of his fellow Councilmember, when questioned about the lack of specific details regarding placement of the notices in the ordinance request, Ibarra indicated his understanding was that Burlison has had difficulty moving ahead on proposed legislation, in the past, when he has been overly detailed in his requests for action on issues affecting Springfield and its citizens.

"When Doug and I started these discussions, he pointed out that when he has tried to get something done, the more detailed he is, the harder time he has getting anywhere… so we figured ambiguity in the beginning would be good given he is on the committee that will discuss this proposal," Ibarra wrote in an email.

The request, which Ibarra has identified as a "Transparency in Taxation Initiative," as submitted by the Councilmen on Monday, June 29:


Mr. Burris, Mr. Wichmer, and other appropriate City Staff:

Since the new Council has taken office in April, a consistent and contentious discussion has been that of Capital Improvements Districts (CIDs). While the philosophical value may vary from council member to council member as to the appropriateness of CIDs, the consistency of much of the discussion has been regarding the transparency to the customers (citizens) paying the additional tax.

While we understand that The Mayor and Council will have to charge the appropriate committee to review a request for an ordinance and the ordinance itself, this letter is a formal request to begin the process of bringing two different proposals to Council:

> The first request is one that would require any business that sells goods or services at the retail level, is part of a CID, and charges sales tax to display signage that notifies the consumer of such goods and services in an adequate manner that they are shopping in a CID and how much the CID tax amount is.

> The second request is one that would require any business inside the city limits of Springfield that sells goods or services at the retail level and charges tax to its consumers to display signage that notifies the customer of the amount of tax being paid as a patron.

As public servants, we believe that the number one duty in preserving trust with the people we serve is to offer transparency.

As a City with nearly a dozen CIDs either in place or in the works to be put into place, offering the citizens notice whether or not they are shopping or receiving services in a CID is not only about transparency, but also about honesty. Whether it comes to
fruition by way of CID-only signage or city-wide signage, to offer these two proposals to the citizens of this community for discussion and debate is the appropriate step to take at this time.

We look forward to working with Council and City Staff on this issue, and are available for questions, comments, or concerns at any time.

Respectfully Submitted,

Nicholas Ibarra, Zone 1 City Councilman

Doug Burlison, General C City Councilman


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