Back in October I tried to offer a response to Kent residents who had asked questions on the Blog about City Council’s interest in a possible Sin Tax for Kent. Although nothing has really changed since then, the local media has been working hard to make a story out of it this week, so I figured it was worth restating what we’re looking at and why.
As I told the Beacon Journal reporter who called me last week, I’ve been telling the other reporters that have been calling this week that the Sin Tax is one of many options we are exploring to see what the state code allows and if it would make sense as part of our effort to improve our finances.
I keep reiterating that this is just an item we’re being asked to research at this point, and our Law Director is doing just that, but we are nowhere near a position to recommend to Council whether or not to pursue such an option.
Likewise, I noted that Council wanted more information but no discussions have been had yet nor have any decisions been even considered at this point. And finally, I’ve advised the reporters that City Council is committed to taking the options regarding our finances to the public to get community feedback long before we make a decision and I’ve explained that it’s premature to know whether the Sin Tax will even make the list of options to take to the community.
When I read the stories that are being written this week, I’ve been a bit surprised; they make it sound like the city has already decided which way to go with a Sin Tax but that’s not really the case.
Today’s front page headline actually read: “Kent Seeking State Change For Tax” which was something we advised City Council we could do if they decided the Sin Tax concept had merit but at this point Council has not made that decision so we’re not actually seeking anything at this time. And being the good business people that they are, a Columbus lobbying firm did come visit with us to discuss the services they could offer us in this regard but we have not actually hired the firm to do any work for us.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re very interested in exploring as many different options as possible for solving our fiscal challenges, and there is interest in exploring the idea of a Sin Tax by City Council, but the media reports seem to suggest that we’re ready to implement a Sin Tax next week which isn’t exactly accurate.
If Council decides to pursue a Sin Tax option, I’ll be sure to keep you posted.