Burgmeier says he’ll fight any attempt to use taxes for Vedic pundits; M.U.M. lawyer responds to religion question.
After expressing reservations about the measure, Jefferson County supervisors approved an ordinance this morning enacting a local option sales tax in Maharishi Vedic City.
After voters in the city approved a ballot measure bringing the city under the umbrella of the county’s 1 percent local option sales tax, the supervisors were required by state law to pass an ordinance certifying the tax.
The board did what they were required to do, but supervisors Dick Reed and Steve Burgmeier both said they had concerns about the tax’s proposed use. Roughly .5 percent of the local option sales tax collected everywhere in Jefferson County will now go to “support peace creating experts and facilities for those experts for the purpose of creating peace, prevention of crime, and freedom from problems and in favor of the life of the people of the City and of all the people on earth.”
Burgmeier said he would try to block any attempt by Maharishi Vedic City to use taxpayer money to support Vedic pundits, who are young men from India practicing the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs. Members of the TM movement founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi say practicing these programs creates peace.
“If any money is spent for the pundit project, I will seek any and all recourse to stop what I feel is an illegal use and a church-and-state conflict,” Burgmeier said.
As grounds for his objection for using tax money to support the pundits, Burgmeier cited a court’s decision in 1979 ruling that the Science of Creative Intelligence, an offshoot of the TM movement, could not be taught in public schools. He added, “the salutation that people use for the leader of the movement, ‘his holiness,’ does nothing to ease my concern.”
After this morning’s meeting, Maharishi Vedic City attorney Maureen Wynne said, “the city intends to use the tax for a lawful purpose. We’re consulting with our counsel about what would be a lawful purpose and the city council will meet and consider that.”
She added, “there are a lot of things a city can do to support a project that are maybe less controversial.”
“World peace is an essential need for everybody,” said Mayor Bob Wynne, “and the city council wants to pursue that goal.”