Proposed tax will drive us away

Selena McPherson / The News

The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board.

Selena McPherson / The News

Selena McPherson / The News

There’s a first time for everything at Murray State: visiting Dairy Queen, discovering Pogue Library and pledging your love for the city sticker.

That’s right – strange things are happening in our small town. If any Murray City Council members want your opinion, you adore paying a measly $50 per year for the gloriously reflective city sticker. In fact, you look forward to purchasing it. It’s your favorite Murray State tradition.

Why? Because the city of Murray doesn’t have that many options for requiring us, and everyone else who works within city limits, to give them our not-so-spare change, and we’ve got the winning hand in a choice between city sticker and a payroll tax.

The proposed payroll tax, which Mayor Jack Rose discussed at the council retreat, would take approximately 1.25 percent from the paycheck of anyone working within Murray city limits.

Don’t let those small numbers fool you, though: in a year’s time, those percentages of every paycheck add up to much more than the one-time payment – if you’re a law-abiding student who actually purchases a city sticker – of $50.

Nothing like a choice between evil and a greater evil to get the message across that Murray loves housing Murray State and its students.

The payroll tax would essentially become a reason for students, faculty and staff to move outside city limits to neighboring areas – Hazel, Paris, Paducah, Benton, etc. Somehow, that doesn’t seem an effective effort to encourage residents that Murray is a friendly, cheap and nice place to live.

If you can get away with not purchasing a city sticker, the choice becomes clear: pay no money or pay a lot of money.

It isn’t a tough choice for employed students and, well, every other employed person in Murray – the payroll tax would undeniably hurt us. Even President Davies frowned at the idea, calling it a “huge mistake.” If Davies, who usually has a bright and cheery attitude about everything, voices his concern, it must be a train wreck waiting to happen.

Nothing is set in stone yet, but if faculty, staff and students don’t speak up about the issue, it could come down on us like a cinder block.

If the tax goes through and doesn’t force existing residents out of the city, it would certainly damage recruitment efforts. Universities are incredible at concealing costs to incoming students, but it would be quite the feat to avoid telling students their paychecks will be cut into.

It seems the tax is an all around terrible idea. University administration is working on a list to present to the city and university about the tax and all of its shortcomings.

But it isn’t terrible for everyone – oh no, the payroll tax would greatly benefit the retired and unemployed in Murray, as it would lower the city tax and remove the city sticker cost.

Murray City Council, we’re on to you. We know you’d love to make Murray the Friendliest Town for Retirement in America, but cut us some slack. Students already face incredible debts just by enrolling at Murray State, and it feels like a slap in the face to impose yet another cost on us and straight from our tiny pockets.

We love our city, and we have pride in it. But if this proposal advances, don’t come running after us when we drive away to some better, cheaper town.