Opinion: In support of Pelham’s tax increase

Published 12:13 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2023

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I stand behind Pelham’s sales tax increase.

This is, I understand, a bit of a controversial view. Mainly because no one in their right mind enjoys taxes, and most folk would rather have a root canal rather than be forced to give more of their money to the government. Especially since, more often than not, we have no clue where that extra money goes.

Here’s the thing, though: the city of Pelham needs the revenue. 

I’ve been covering the passing of this sales tax increase for the better part of two months, and because of that, I’ve had the privilege of attending numerous work sessions and city council meetings.

I have two big takeaways from these meetings. 

First, Pelham has a lot of infrastructure that needs upkeep and maintenance. Every city needs roads, emergency services, and bridges, the things that keep it running and what residents are entitled to. But Pelham is in the position where it also funds infrastructure that other cities don’t have and its citizens benefit from: like the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena, the Ballantrae Golf course and the splash pad, just to name a few. All of these things cost money, and that money needs to come from somewhere. Primarily since the city of Pelham hasn’t raised taxes to pay for infrastructure for the past twenty years. In fact, taxes have only been raised by Pelham once in that time, and it was when the city established Pelham City Schools.

Secondly, and my colleague Noah Wortham has touched on this in the past, is the noticeable trend that very few, if any, from the community take the time to attend regular city council meetings. Many display the tendency to only protest or raise concerns once a measure has already been passed, which is of course too late to make a difference. To my own recollection, there was but one man who attended the city council session where concerns about the tax increase could have been made. To his credit, this one man spoke for a solid ten minutes and clearly articulated his concerns about the tax, which might have been better heard had anyone else attended. By contrast, there has been a very vocal population that has chosen to complain about the sales tax now that there is little to be done about it, both inside of meetings and outside on social media.

Let me reiterate that I’m all for this new sales tax. I think it will help pay for Pelham’s infrastructure and help the city grow and develop. Frankly, I think that if other people are against the tax increase, they should have attended the meetings where it was first discussed and had their voices heard rather than just complaining about it in hindsight. That’s the great thing about the American system of government: everyone is entitled to have their voice heard. The only caveat is that you have to show up and speak when it matters.