CAMPAIGN NOTEBOOK: Cruelest tax of all is self imposed

I'm a journalist focused on government, policy, politics and people.
I find what matters and bird dog it like nobody's business.

By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal

Candidates for Tupelo City Council have remained silent about the possibility of a tax increase on the ballot Tuesday for the primary election.
Since they’ve been quiet about it, I feel obligated to tell you. Don’t show up to your voting precinct ignorant of this tax.
This self-imposed tax may affect the citizens of Tupelo longer than the current 10 mills taxpayers pay as part of the Major Thoroughfare Program.
If you’re not careful, your taxes might rise higher than any of us can afford.
Mississippi State University public administration professor Jerry Emison often warns people throughout the nation of this sad tax problem voters will face in Tupelo on Tuesday.
“Poor government is the cruelest tax the we can impose on ourselves,” he often says.
As voters in the city of Tupelo, we will have options on deciding the level of competent government the city will have for the next four years. We have the opportunity to decide who will make decisions on our behalf.
Don’t sit this election out just because the mayor’s race isn’t on the ballot. City Council members set policy for the city, approve the annual budget and many other important tasks related to how healthy this All-America City operates.
Electing incompetent leaders ensures poor decisions made with our tax dollars. Conversely, selecting strong, innovative, forward-looking leaders will help Tupelo keep intact its legacy other cities envy.
However, identifying the competent leaders from those who are less so isn’t easy. Candidates don’t volunteer to tell you how bad they will be at handling the public’s business.
That’s why voters like you should do your homework on the candidates before casting your ballot Tuesday. In the last couple of weeks, the Daily Journal has published numerous articles on the City Council races.
Reporting has included information on candidates statements of economic interest, a document required by the Mississippi Ethics Commission; a series of stories on the council races; questionnaires completed by each candidate and each candidate’s campaign finances.
Some candidates and their supporters have criticized stories I’ve written recently that point out not so flattering details about candidates’ histories and other information. They pointed out the imminent election and questioned timing of the articles.
I didn’t make the rules on disclosure of information in campaigns; Mississippi’s state government did. Since the deadline was Tuesday for candidates to report their campaign contributions and expenditures, that’s the earliest I could begin reporting on it.
As a voter, you have lots of information available about the candidates who will set policy for the next four years. Do your homework before voting, or we could all face consequences of paying a high tax of bad government for a long time to come.
ROBBIE WARD covers Tupelo and Lee County government for the Daily Journal. Contact him at robbie.ward@journalinc.com.