Anti-tax activist vows to fight library referendum, organize task force to monitor November election

dhinshaw@thestate.com August 23, 2013 

Michael Letts

Two anti-tax activists announced Friday that a new citizens committee will work against voter passage of a tax increase for library expansion.

The group, called Not Another Tax Increase, will be co-chaired by Michael Letts of Richland Northeast and Wayne Duncan of Chapin.

Letts cited the penny-on-the-dollar increase in the sales tax, which went into effect in May to improve the county’s transportation network.

Letts said the voter-approved tax plan included construction projects “that many feel are unnecessary,” such as building new streets leading to the riverfront Innovista district.

“We strongly support the library,” he said in a news release, “but it’s foolish to rush to raise taxes when existing revenue isn’t being used wisely.”

The two said their group will make sure voters are informed on the issue and turn out the anti-tax vote.

The library is asking voters to approve a property-tax increase to raise $59 million for additions to existing libraries. It also will build two new branches, one in Richland Northeast and the other in the northwest part of the county. Officials have said the tax increase would amount to a $12- to $14 increase each year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

Rick Ott, active with the pro-referendum citizen group Vote for Our Library, said if people look at it purely as a money issue, they’ll find they get “a great value” for their library taxes.

“The library is a free system for all the citizens,” he said. “It is a highly used resource. It is managed extremely well.”

Ott referred to Letts’ group as “Citizens Against Virtually Everything.”

Letts said Not Another Tax Increase will organize a citizens task force to monitor the election and report “any conduct by elected officials that might compromise the integrity of the election.”

Letts unsuccessfully appealed the results of the November 2012 sales-tax referendum, which was held during one of the biggest election disasters in state history, with long lines forcing some people to walk away without voting.

“(A) lot of folks have questions about the elections process – particularly since the politicians haven’t enacted any meaningful reforms,” he said.

Reach Hinshaw at (803) 771-8641.

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