Tax help

1/14/2014

Collections from sales tax should bring welcome relief.

Collections from sales tax should bring welcome relief.

Local sales tax collections are headed in the right direction.

The city of Garden City recently reported an increase in local sales tax revenue of more than 6.17 percent in 2013 over 2012, with a total of nearly $5.87 million in sales tax collected this past year.

The sales tax in Garden City currently is 8.3 percent, and 7.3 percent outside city limits. Of that, 6.15 percent goes to the state, Finney County takes another 1 percent, and Garden City collects a 1 percent city and 1 percent countywide tax. (Another .15 percent in city and county sales go to the HorseThief Reservoir management project.)

As for sales tax income, the city also receives a portion of a countywide, quarter-cent sales tax.

On March 4, Finney County voters will decide whether to extend that tax. As they do, voters should question where those tax dollars would go.

Finney County plans to devote its cut to construction of a court services, youth services and community corrections building project. Voters must decide whether the estimated $6.625 million venture touted as a way to streamline those operations makes sense.

Meanwhile, Garden City's plan to put its portion of the revenue into the general fund to offset budget shortfalls, and help stabilize the city's mill levy should hit home with everyone.

Those opposed to the sales tax-pitch understandably might argue that not extending the sales tax — even a modest one — would aid poorer residents hard hit by such taxes. But, it's also necessary to consider how the city plans to use its sales tax income for property tax relief.

Another plus of any sales tax is in a significant share coming from out-of-towners.

A local spurt in retail starting with the new Menards store has encouraged more visitors, and additional new stores and restaurants on the way will do the same.

No one likes taxes, so the best we could hope for is a positive return on our investment. When it comes to extending the countywide, quarter-cent sales tax, the city's proposed property tax relief could be the strongest selling point of all.

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