written by Steven Palmieri – Polson

“Taxation without Representation” was the cause of the American Revolution. Yet, the Polson City Council has done essentially the same thing by their unilateral and unanimous approval of the dock and walkway projects connecting Sacajawea and Riverside Parks. What makes this decision even more concerning is that both of these areas had to be designated as “blighted” in order to secure the $900,000 of funding that now the People of Polson will bear the burden to repay plus interest, of course. Where is this blight? I fail to see it. The council chose to place Polson dwellers on-the-hook for that amount of money without a public vote by a process called Tax Incremental Financing (TIF). TIF is a way to immediately assess new taxes on so-called blighted areas in anticipation of their future improved value. What other future TIF projects are in the offing by the Polson government remain to be seen. Hopefully they will ask us next time, and that request will be in the form of a ballot box vote after all issues have been fully aired.

Both the recent tax burdens of the aquatic center and gymnasium roof were voted on by the people; an informed decision was made in both of these cases. However, the levying of unfair and new multiyear taxes for the dock/walkway project is nothing short of outrageous. Despite the objections voiced by concerned citizens about this project, it was passed unanimously. This action is much worse than taxation without representation. It is taxation with dictatorial representation. Are our elected and appointed officials truly representing the will of the people who are their employers? This is a question whose only acceptable answer should be yes, but now seems doubtful.