Economic Development Initiative on November Ballot


Economic Development Initiative on November Ballot

            The voters in Edwards County will again have the opportunity to vote on a slight sales tax increase that would fund Economic Development initiatives in the county.  In April of 2011, the question failed to pass by just 15 votes.  The question on the November 6, 2012 ballot will read: 

 

SHALL THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF EDWARDS COUNTY, KANSAS, IMPOSE A .375% ADDITIONAL COUNTYWIDE SALES TAX FOR THE PURPOSE OF FINANCING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES, CHANGING THE PRIMARY FUNDING SOURCE FROM PROPERTY TAX TO SALES TAX?  SAID SALES TAX TO BECOME EFFECTIVE AS OF THE 1ST DAY OF APRIL, 2013?

 

Currently, the Edwards County Economic Development Corporation is funded through general fund allocations from Edwards County in the amount of $40,000 which is equivalent to approximately 1 County mil; and the City of Kinsley in the amount of $20,000, which is equivalent to approximately 4 City mils.  Although both the County and the City of Kinsley receive sales taxes and other funding, the majority of general funds are derived from property taxes. 

 

The additional $9,879.81of  the budget is raised by providing grant and loan administration services to organizations and governmental units in the county.  If the sales tax question passes, Economic Development will be funded solely by sales taxes and administrative services fees.

 

The sales tax rate in Kinsley would be raised to 8.675% and 7.675% in the remainder of the county.  If the sales tax is increased it will still be comparable to the regional destinations where many Edwards County residents go to shop.  Sales tax rates in Dodge City are 8.9%, Garden City 8.45%, Great Bend 8.05%, Larned 8.8%, Salina, 8.2% and Hays 8.55%. 

 

According to the Kansas Department of Revenue website, sales tax is charged on retail sale, rental or lease of tangible personal property; labor services to install, apply, repair, service, alter, or maintain tangible personal property, and admissions to entertainment, amusement, or recreation places in Kansas.

 

The State of Kansas collects 6.3%, Edwards County collects 1% and the City of Kinsley collects 1% in sales taxes.  If the question passes, Economic Development would collect .375%.  A 3/8th cent raise in sales tax will provide enough to entirely fund Economic Development as well as special projects.  Edwards County and the City of Kinsley can utilize the allocations they are currently giving to Economic Development on other projects or provide residents with property tax relief.

 

Sales taxes are paid by anyone who purchases goods or services in the county.  This means that the tax burden is spread over all residents rather than just those who own property.  In addition, a portion of the burden is paid by travelers or visitors who make purchases. 

 

A gallon of milk costs approximately $3.89.  If the sales tax question passes, 1.5 cents would go toward the Economic Development sales tax.  If you purchase $100 in groceries, the amount collected by Economic Development would equal .38 cents.  The additional rate on a $1,000 purchase would equal $3.75.

 

The Economic Development Corporation in Edwards County provides many critical services to the community including promoting our communities for tourism and growth, improving quality of life issues, facilitating planning for the future, assisting non-profit and government agencies in obtaining grant funding, and assisting businesses in start-ups and expansions.

 

In just 4 years, since the reorganization of the corporation in 2008, they have written and received grant funding in excess of $750,000 for various agencies and governmental units in Edwards County.  They were instrumental in the funding and opening of a convenience store and fitness center and helped to retain a 100 year old business in Lewis.  They have assisted with the opening of a restaurant in Belpre. 

 

In Kinsley, they facilitated the building and obtained the funding for the Kinsley Walking Trail in South Park.  They facilitated and obtained the funding for the Downtown Window Project and were instrumental in the opening of the new variety store.  Due to a grant written and administered through the corporation, the residents of Kinsley will save $500,000 in crucial water system upgrades.

 

The corporation recently facilitated a county-wide Housing Study and is working with local communities to increase available rental and senior housing in the county.  They are working with the county to find funding for a new ambulance and energy efficiency upgrades to the courthouse, the Wayne Township for Community Building upgrades, the City of Lewis for sewer system upgrades and the City of Kinsley for built infrastructure improvements.

 

The agency is also the lead on all tourism promotion in the county and has developed a comprehensive website that receives over 1,000 hits per month as well as Hunter’s and Visitor’s guides to aid tourists and visitors in locating lodging and retail venues in the county.  The website is also a valuable resource for residents providing housing, employment, community, recreation, government, business, and event information.

 

In addition, the agency has provided training and expansion assistance for existing business owners, coaching for new businesses and facilitates the County microloan program which has seen one $25,000 loan completely repaid and is currently administrating 4 additional loans to businesses in the county.

 

Edwards County Economic Development will be hosting informational meetings on October 18 in Belpre and Lewis and on October 24 in Offerle and Kinsley.  Watch the newspaper and your mail for dates and times.

 

For more information about the proposed sales tax question please feel free to cal l the Economic Development Office at 620-659-2711, or 1-877-464-3929, stop by at 721 Marsh in Kinsley, email at ecedc@sbcglobal.net,  or visit the county website at www.edwardscounty.org.