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Becoming town is not all politicians claimed it to be

Date Posted: 2003-04-18

Contrary to rosy prediction by local politicians, it’s beginning to look like residents of Kume Island got the short end of the stick when the two largest communities on the island, Gushikawa and Nakazato Villages, were merged into Kume Town on April 1.

The town managers now say it is very likely that they will have too raise residential taxes in the near future to meet their new obligations. Politicians pushing the plan saw it as and effective means to create new cultural and business activity, improve infrastructure and convince young people to stay or return to their home island.

Thus far the town has completed a new sports facility, a spa and an insect observatory. A new amenity park is scheduled for completion next year. All this does not come cheap. To date, the total construction price tag is running ¥90.8 billion.

The central government pledged an annual subsidy for the new town for the next 10 years as an incentive to merge. The state subsidy does not, however, cover everything. Taxpayers in the town have to cough up 15.9 percent of the costs, some ¥14.4 billion. After 10 years, when the subsidy runs out, the town must shoulder the full costs for operating the facilities.

The Kume Town Office has calculated that it will be impossible for the town to pay the salaries and cost of maintenance of the new facilities, based on the town’s current tax base. They say that an increase in taxes is inevitable, and should be enacted as soon as possible to prepare for the future. The report was published after the merger and election of new mayor and assembly.

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