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City government must remember taxpayer limits

Room to grow. That’s what a county-owned building would provide the city, should the city decide to move operations there.

Our question is, why does the city government need room to grow?

In our view, smaller government is desirable.

It seems that, as government grows, so does the need to produce revenue to support larger operations, including salary and benefits for a bigger staff.

That more than likely would translate into higher taxes.

Meanwhile, the city tax base has been shrinking for decades as wholesale sections of residential neighborhoods have been gobbled up by nonprofits.

If the county does not need the former bank building on West Third Street for its own operations, we would much rather see the property be returned to the tax rolls and put to use in the private sector.

However, it may well be that the building would better serve the city as a base of operations, provided the city sell City Hall to a private developer.

More study will be needed and we’ll watch with great interest as City Council’s ad hoc committee continues its examination of all options.

Whatever is decided, we call upon city leaders to remember that the shrinking tax base is a significant problem that is getting increasingly burdensome.

Every time another property is removed from the tax rolls, every taxpayer is required to carry the load and keep the tax revenue coming in to pay for a vast array of public services.

While this property already is off the tax rolls because it is owned by the county, if it is not needed by the county, efforts should be made to return it to a taxable status.

The shrinking tax base may not be an issue that city officials will be able to resolve, but their recognition of it should be a prerequisite to considering future real estate investments.

If anything, officials would be wise to rein in the amount of public properties they have in their inventory.

At the very least, they should first consider using other city-owned buildings, such as the Trade and Transit buildings on West Third Street, before deciding to buy another property, regardless of its status.

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