Lower Income Residents Concerned About Raising Sales Tax
For many lower income families in Columbia, it's already a struggle to pay for groceries. One single mom says adding any additional tax to food could put extra hardships on her family's already tight budget.
"Every dollar counts for us," said single mom of five Patricia Knapp. "It's just tough being a single parent and living on a limited income. We go through a lot of groceries a month. A lot of groceries."
She tries to conserve, but feeding five kids is hard.
"You gotta have food," she says. "Other things you can do without, but food is one thing you can't go without."
Knapp says any additional tax on food will push her into debt.
"They could have left food out, but they included the taxes on the food which is going to bring the food prices up a lot which is going to make it harder on the poorer people to get food," explained Knapp. "They're not thinking about who these taxes are affecting. I'm sure they are thinking that it is helping certain people, but it's not helping the poor people of the community. It's actually making it harder for us."
But the city council says the taxes are necessary.
"All residents of Columbia will benefit from these improvements and to the extent that they all help pay for them," said city councilman Chris Janku. "I think that is a balanced and fair approach."
If all five propositions pass, sales tax would rise to about 7.5 cents per dollar. If none of the propositions pass, sales tax would fall to a little less than seven cents per dollar. Knapp says she supports improving the city, just not taxing food.
Janku said sales taxes benefits the community because Columbia's numerous visitors wind up contributing. But that's no comfort to Knapp and other members of GRO, who will be handing flyers out this week. Members of GRO say they want to get the word out about these taxes before November 8th when Columbians hit the polls.