The Garden City Telegram
3/25/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Smart deal

Modest tax makes sense to fund needed projects.

For some two decades, folks shopping locally have made a sensible investment in needed projects.

On Tuesday, April 2, voters in Garden City will have an opportunity to extend a half-cent sales tax and continue doing as much.

In place since 1994 as a way to address road repair and maintenance, the half-cent tax was reauthorized in 2005 for another decade to help reduce the city mill levy, along with financing transportation improvements.

The half-cent represents a small slice of the 8.45 percent sales tax collected locally. The state takes 6.3 percent; Finney County and Garden City each receive 1 percent; and .15 percent goes to the HorseThief Reservoir management project.

Yet the modest half-cent portion goes a long way toward needed ventures in the city.

Examples range from reconstruction and widening of major city streets to infrastructure improvements at Garden City Regional Airport. The dollars have gone to legitimate needs, and not items on a frivolous "wish list."

It's worth noting that the sales tax receipts also help leverage matching state and federal funds needed to pursue street and other projects, a sensible way to make those improvements much more affordable on the local level.

Losing the income would hurt. Should voters reject extension of the half-cent tax, they would be erasing an estimated $2.75 million in revenue — an amount equal to 16.73 mills.

The lost revenue would force the city to consider some painful combination of higher property taxes and/or cuts in services, to include targeting such critical areas as the police and fire departments. And putting off work on roads and other infrastructure only would lead to more significant costs down the line.

Instead, it makes sense to continue on the current path, especially as Garden City improves its position as a regional shopping destination. Let's let visitors help pay for our necessities, and help keep local property taxes in check.

The half-cent sales tax has paid off for many years in Garden City, and should continue to do so. Vote "yes" for extending a tax being put to good use.