The setting for the message was ideal Thursday morning – the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce weekly coffee hosted by the home-grown Community Bank of the Midwest.
What was the message? Offered up by someone in the crowd, it was a simple one – shop local first for those Christmas gifts. The person to said this made the announcement while standing before the bank’s massive fireplace hearth, all decked out with holiday decorations.
This is more than merely a cheery sentiment. Those local purchases spread Christmas joy while fueling the local economy.
The total sales tax revenue is made up of three pieces – a half-cent city tax (roughly 10 percent of the budget), a quarter-cent city tax (5 percent) and the city’s portion of the county-wide tax (11 percent) – that equals about 26 percent of the city’s $23.7 million 2013-14 budget.
For comparison, property taxes comprise 21 percent of the city budget. That’s huge.
The half-cent tax alone has generated between $1.4 million and $1.9 million each year since it debuted in 2001. Despite the 2008 recession, it has it has remained relatively consistent.
This is proof, in part, that we believe in keeping our dollars local.
That money has an impact. Of the total raised the half-cent tax, 35 percent goes to property tax reduction. Over the years, it has been the equivalent of between five to seven mills.
As for the balance, 45 percent goes to infrastructure improvements (mostly streets and Fire Department equipment) and 20 percent goes to economic development incentives.
There are other factors, such as a strong ag and oil sector, that help keep the sales tax revenue from falling too far. But, we all must not overlook the affect each of us has on our community’s fiscal wellbeing.
Sure, not everything on our Christmas wish lists can be found here. Nonetheless, here is a very good place to start.
It is also great for the last-minute shoppers.