Last week, we were wrong in assuming ?the ?Republican controlled freeholder board of Atlantic County was trying to ?sneak through? ?a $3 “stamp tax” ?at its meeting on Primary Election Day. ? We apologize for that error.
We now know ?the 7 Republican freeholders were snookered by the 2 Democrats who spent the past three years fighting for this new tax.
The proposed ordinance would impose an additional $3 ?stamp tax? on every document filed by the County Clerk.?? That tax would create a ?Homeless Trust Fund? of roughly $250,000 each year.
Because state law limits how much of this money can be used to administer the fund, most counties simply give this money to ?Community Organizer? groups who also get the homeless to register and vote for Democrats.?? That?s whyDemocrats spent the last three years fighting for this new tax.
Atlantic County already spends $2.6 million each year on food, housing, health care and cash for ?the homeless?.?? Private charities like the Salvation Army, Rescue Mission, and Sister Jean Webster?s Kitchen spend even more. Every Friday, many agencies show up at Landlord-Tenant court in Atlantic City and to offer months of ?free rent to almost anyone getting evicted. evicted.
During last Tuesday?s hearing, Democrat Freeholder Ernest Coursey said, ?Nobody chooses to be homeless?.?? That is not true.? Even ?progressive? Democrats in towns like San Francisco and Tucson, Arizona now recognize that many (although certainly not all) ?homeless? choose to be that way.?? Many deliberately refuse the medications, counseling, and lifestyle changes they need to live in normal homes no matter how much money we spend.
There are three?big problems with ?earmark? ?or ?stamp? taxes like this.
First, these ?nickel and dime? taxes keep growing.?? Just a few years ago, it cost almost nothing to record documents with the County Clerk.?? That was because the fee was used to pay only the salaries and expenses needed by the Clerk to record and store the documents.??? But starting in the 1960?s, ?progressive? Republicans and Democrats saw the County Clerk as a cash cow to fund every pet project without openly raising taxes.???? Now, the cost of a simple deed transfer is often thousands of dollars.? If we add a $3 fee for ?the homeless? today, will we be asked to add another $3 for breast cancer research tomorrow??? Or to pay for the Boys and Girls Club??? Or any worthy charity?
Second, there is no connection between how much money is raised from an ?earmark? or ?stamp? tax like this, and how much is needed.?? Every dollar raised from this new tax will be spent, whether needed or not.?? Democrat Freeholder admitted that the $2.6 million now being spent by Atlantic County is already? taking care of everyone.? But he says he wants ?a funding mechanism in place? if we stop getting federal and state grants.
Democrat Freeholder Colin Bell claims this money is needed for ?homeless veterans? and ?Sandy victims?.?? But last Tuesday, the when ?Democrat proponents of the new tax were asked how many ?homeless veterans? were in Atlantic County, their answer was that they did not have a clue? These Democrats know that once the slush fund is set up, they can funnel it to their ?Community Organizers?? when they can?t find enough ?homeless veterans? or ?Sandy victims?.
Third, because this tax is hidden in the cost of filing papers, since only a few people pay the tax, and because most of these people only pay in every few years, few people will know or care how the money is spent.
Last Tuesday, the two Democrat Freeholders were prepared, organized and effective in fighting for this new tax.?? The seven Republicans were unprepared, divided, and ineffective.
The Democrats packed the room with their supporters.??? They also spoon-fed the Press of Atlantic City reporter with their propaganda for weeks to get biased and favorable news coverage. ?The two Democrats had their talking points co-ordinated with their supporters in the audience, and with each other. ? ?And they timed their application so that the final hearing on the ordinance to be held on June 17 in the Democrat stronghold of Pleasantville.
Meanwhile, the seven Republicans did nothing to alert us or any other opponents that the measure was coming up again.? We thought this bad idea was buried when the Republican majority defeated it in 2011.
Republican Freeholders Frank Formica and Will Pauls, and County Administrator Gerald DelRosso all did an excellent job of exposing the weakness in the Democrat arguments.
But Republican Freeholders John Risley and Alex Marino ?were too unprepared, intimidated, or distracted to support them. ? They said nothing, and simply voted with the Democrats. ? ?Without their support, Republican Freeholder Will Pauls had no choice but to back down and also vote with the Democrats.
The final vote was?three Republicans, Risley, Marino, and Pauls voted to adopt the new tax on first reading, together with Democrats Colin Bell and Ernest Coursey. ? Only three Republicans voted no. ?They were Republican freeholders Frank Formica, James Bertino, and Frank Sutton . ? Republican Freeholder Richard Dase was absent.
The freeholders will have a public hearing and take their final vote on Tuesday, June 17, at City Hall in Pleasantville–a Democrat stronghold. ? This will put additional pressure on Republicans to surrender.