MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Opinion

June 25, 2014

Diverting funds should happen once

Muskogee city councilors’ decision to siphon off money from use tax funds earmarked for economic development must be a one-time thing.

Councilors recently voted to delay full implementation of a plan that would have set aside $1.2 million per year for economic development.

Instead, councilors will give city employees a one-time 2 percent stipend.

We are not going to quibble over whether city employees need or deserve a boost in pay.

We are all struggling with a down economy — city workers and civilians alike.

But the most sustainable way to ensure city workers can get annual merit increases would be to increase and improve our sales tax base.

When more money is spent for local goods and services, more sales tax revenue goes into the city’s general fund — from which councilors could negotiate with unions for raises.

But giving some of the economic development money to city workers only delays the opportunities the city could have seized by spending the money on economic development.

We agreed with the idea of using use tax funds for ED.

We think the plan should be moving forward.

We think there should have been a plan on how to spend $1.2 million to help us reach our goals as a city.

Yes, city workers may deserve a raise.

Yes, extra money in the hands of anyone who lives inside the city limits might result in more sales and more sales tax revenue.

But creating an environment where new businesses can thrive here would be the best long-term use of that $300,000.

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