EDITORIAL/Grow, don't tax way out of hole
Wednesday, September 11, 2013 1:00 AM
Rather than taxing, Philadelphia still remains in a position of being able to grow its way out of half-million dollar deficits. But, a more aggressive approach to economic development and a lot more common sense and fiscal restraint will be required.
A tax hike that will make Philadelphians among the highest taxed in the region makes about as much sense as the riddles Mayor James A. Young speaks in when he flips and flops back and forth on taxes.
Young expressed disappointment over the two dissenting votes, saying the board as a whole had worked together as a team to compile it.
So what! It's a tax increase! Good for the dissenters!
"If you weren't confident we did the right thing to begin with, you should have done more talking," Young said. "I am disappointed. No one gets as much criticism as I do. I just think it is bad business to jump out of the truck. But, we will move forward."
Philadelphia needs a few more good men like Josh Gamblin of Ward 1 and Jim Fulton of Ward 2 to stand up for the right thing.
Some folks - namely three aldermen and the mayor - need to get their heads out of the sand and produce results - and they can start with making cuts like almost every other business and household has done the last five years.
One new box store like a Lowe's or a grocery store would go a long way toward closing the gap, not to mention what 500 jobs at a manufacturing plant would do.
Already, because of the new hospital, Neshoba countians aren't making the trek to Meridian. New doctors are moving in and the hospital is hiring staff.
Philadelphia's first liquor store opened last month. All of this positive economic activity will have a huge impact on local tax revenues and could negate having to raise taxes. Aldermen should have waited to see.
The PR alone on a tax hike is awful.
The city is still sitting on about $3 million in reserves and officials ought to take a chunk of that and hire a professional economic developer of its own.
Sales tax returns are a strong indicator of economic health. The chart nearby illustrates Philadelphia's superior economic strength (for now) with sales tax returns twice that of Carthage and Louisville and more than a million higher than Forest, one of the stronger economies with lower unemployment.
What opportunities are we squandering with the wealth we have?
Driving into town any stranger can see Philadelphia is a good business town.
The tax increase approved Tuesday night could tip Philadelphia over to the other side because higher taxes tend to stall or impede growth. Tax hikes are job killers.
Average to poor public schools, higher property taxes; people are going to build homes in the county and leave town without a unified plan for economic development and education.
Small-business optimism remained flat in August, dropping 0.1 points from July, the National Federation of Independent Businesses reported.
While state-specific data isn't available, Ron Aldridge, state director of NFIB/Mississippi, said small-business owners here are just as discouraged as those in other states.
"There's still a lot of uncertainty," he said. "You're not going to invest in new employees or equipment unless you think you're going to earn your money back."
The sin of obstructing growth is that our young people suffer most. We want them to stay and prosper.
We're drawing the red line on taxes and jobs. There are no more excuses. Produce or else. Don't come back next year wringing your hands promising more hope and change.
"We need to be lean and efficient," Fulton said, insisting that just because there is money in a budget doesn't mean it has to be spent - which is contrary to the way government operates and therein lies the problem.
Instead of focusing on growth and jobs, raising taxes is just easier.