Our View: How much is it worth, really?

DKS Editors

The Farmers’ Market might soon be treated as a business, in the eyes of the city.

Kent City Council is mulling over whether to begin making vendors pay to be a part of the year-round, once-a-week marketplace that touts locally-produced food and — perhaps more worthwhile — a community atmosphere. The logic behind the tax, which would take the form of an income tax or a flat fee, is largely a matter of principle more than a dire need for the revenue.

“I think it’s about treating all businesses the same,” council member Wayne Wilson said.

For more than two decades, the market has brought life to downtown Kent, and an opportunity to interact with farmers from the immediate area. Well before the downtown revitalization, the market during the summer months has thrived.

Vendors are currently exempt from taxes because of an existing city law that states 12 consecutive days of work is required in order to collect income taxes. The city has wrestled for years to figure out a way to “capture the income tax,” as councilwoman Heidi Shaffer put it during the meeting.

A tax would surely not kill the market as a business, but it would be a symbolic slap to the vendors who bring a certain flavor and culture to the city. We don’t view the market as a business, nor the vendors as capitalists reaping profit. We certainly don’t see the need to alter or amend the law to do so.

We agree that the current law was written correctly and should stand as reasonable.

Shaffer is also quoted as saying: “How much is it worth, really? That’s my question to those who actively pursue (a tax on) those who make such little money, people that grow food in Portage County or come to see them.”

Right. View the no tax as an incentive for farmers to continue to grow and sell in Portage County or a tax break for continuing to draw crowds to downtown. But to levy fees on people that gather on the weekends to sell us good quality food, you need a better argument than equality because, in our eyes, this would create inequality.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose names are listed above.