What is Saturday’s special city election really about? Is it about development districts and sales taxes, over what money gets collected where?
Certainly those questions are on the ballot but that’s not what the election is ultimately about.
It’s about who is going to promote jobs for Rockdale. To put it more bluntly it’s about who is going to promote jobs for Rockdale if we don’t do it ourselves.
Answer to that last one is easy. Nobody.
Here’s the situation. “Yes” votes on all three proposals Saturday will shift all of the one-half cent sales tax which has been collected by the Rockdale Hospital District for the past 16 years to a new, citywide Municipal Development District (MDD).
The MDD will use that money to promote our town and its advantages as a place to do business.
In the last few weeks a nationwide heavy equipment school has decided to locate a campus here. Who knows how many more businesses might give us a good, hard look if only they knew about us.
The MDD doesn’t really have the funds yet to let businesses from every New England bay, Nebraska prairie or California suburb know about us.
But it could after Saturday.
The nuts and bolts of the vote are this. “Yes” votes will do away with the hospital district’s sales tax—not the district itself—create a citywide MDD and do away with the current MDD which occupies only the area between the 1994 and current city limits plus an extra-territorial jurisdiction.
If it sounds confusing, it is. That’s nobody’s fault.
But here’s a simpler way to look at it. For the past two years, since the closing of a certain aluminum smelter, a lot of good people in this community have been looking for something they can do to make things better.
On Saturday, we have that chance. And if we don’t do it, who will?—M.B.