Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Power of a Voter

This is quite funny:

A mistake by representatives of the Business Loop 70 Community Improvement District means a sales tax increase the district needs to thrive will require approval by a single University of Missouri student.

On Feb. 28, Jen Henderson, 23, became the sole registered voter living within the community improvement district, or CID, meaning she is the only person who would vote on a half-cent sales tax increase for the district.

Basically what happened is that the business owners wanted capital improvements in the area, and to avoid taking it out of property assessment, they needed a small sales tax increase; so they worked with the local government to create a special Community Improvement District. By state law, in such a district registered voters vote on tax increases, but if there are no registered voters, the property owners vote on it. So the idea was to create a CID with no registered voters -- residences in the area were left out of the rigged-up district. But the University-owned property in the area was not. Henderson happens to live on the University-owned property where she is the overnight attendant caretaker for a guest house, and she registered as a voter at that address -- thus becoming the one and only person who has the legal right to vote on the tax increase and completely blocking the attempt of the property owners in the CID to become the ones to decide the matter.

The property owners tried to convince her to unregister, but when Henderson looked into the matter she decided that the plan seemed dishonest and manipulative (and unregistering one's vote is generally not a straightforward process, in any case). The matter doesn't have to be put to a vote, so the masterminds behind the scheme have the choice of either foregoing the election, in which case they have to pay capital improvement debts some other way, or putting it to a vote, in which case Henderson is the one who makes the decision.

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