New tax creates concern

“No taxation without representation,” states a handmade poster that sits next to a pile of unsigned petitions in the ASPSU student government office.

Remnants of a campaign that has been put on hold, these items sit and wait while it is determined if they will need to be used again.

ASPSU President Amara Marino and Vice President Joe Johnson organized their office against the proposed 10 percent tax on Student Health Services (SHS) and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at the beginning of the summer.

Since starting this campaign, however, negotiations have halted the campaign.

CAPS and SHS have begun a transition to a new location in the University Services Building (USB). Combined, the two offices will gain about 8,000 square feet in the move, but also come under the proposed tax.

The 10 percent would tax all auxiliary services in order to cover the costs of rent and maintenance of the USB. It would also cover the debt services acquired when the building was purchased.

When Marino and Johnson heard about this proposal, they knew something was not right with it. While Marino and Johnson understand that other universities have a similar tax, they noted that 10 percent is unusually high.

“We were a little bit alarmed,” Marino said.

After looking into it more, Marino and Johnson discovered that the university did not use the fee book process for establishing this tax. This process is in place to allow students to offer their opinions before a new fee is instated.

Since this is a tax as opposed to a new fee, the fee book process was not required.

Marino felt this action was “undermining students” because they were not given an opportunity to speak out about the proposal.

While this tax will not directly come out of students’ pockets, Johnson still sees it as a problem.

“It’s eventually going to trickle down to students,” he said.

CAPS and SHS both project longer wait times for students, less availability in services and a decrease in flexibility of appointment times.

The biggest development in this campaign has been the meeting between Jay Kenton, the vice president for finance and administration; Mary Beth Collins of CAPS; Sandy Franz of SHS; Marino; and Johnson.

The five were able to agree to provide CAPS and SHS janitorial services at no cost while also eliminating their rent. CAPS and SHS believe that removing these costs will somewhat offset the 10 percent tax and restore some of the services they thought would be diminished.

Since this offer was made, CAPS and SHS have re-evaluated the proposed tax.

Wanting to help, Marino and Johnson have also re-evaluated their campaign. At this point, ASPSU is waiting for future developments to decide whether or not to pursue this issue any further.