Economic Development Issue on November Ballot


Economic Development Initiative on November Ballot

            On November 4, the voters in Edwards County will have the opportunity to vote to establish new funding streams to start or expand businesses as well as make vital building upgrades for the purpose of revitalizing Edwards County business areas. The question on the ballot will read:

 

SHALL THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF EDWARDS COUNTY, KANSAS, IMPOSE A .375% ADDITIONAL COUNTYWIDE SALES TAX WITH THE PROCEEDS TO BE USED TO FUND VARIOUS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES AS DETERMINED BY THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS ON AN ANNUAL BASIS INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO BUSINESS LOANS, GRANTS TO BUSINESSES FOR BUILDING UPGRADES, AND OTHER ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS WITH 10% ANNUALLY RESERVED FOR ADMINISTRATION OF THESE PROGRAMS.   SAID SALES TAX TO BECOME EFFECTIVE ON THE FIRST CALENDAR QUARTER AFTER STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS HAVE BEEN MET.

 

Previous attempts have been made to vote in this sales tax measure to fund the operating expenses of the Economic Development Office, however, those attempts have been unsuccessful. Currently, the Edwards County Economic Development Corporation is funded through general fund allocations from Edwards County and the City of Kinsley and fees for administration of grants for non-profit and government entities . Passage of this measure will not affect the current funding situation of Economic Development.

 

If passed, the proposed sales tax would initially establish two funds. The first fund would be made up of 45% of the sales tax collected and would establish a Business Micro-loan Fund. The current Micro-loan fund that exists in Edwards County is nearly all loaned out and was originally derived from a grant from the Community Development Block Grant Program which is a division of Housing and Urban Development. These funds can only be loaned to businesses employing 5 or fewer employees, 51% of which must be low to moderate income and the business owner must have been refused a bank loan. The current loans are tied to job retention and creation, because of the guidelines are not available to every business owner, and are high risk. However, the proposed Micro-loan Fund would not have to follow the same regulations. The loans would be regulated and administered locally with guidelines established by the County Commission.

 

A second 45% of the proposed sales tax would be used to establish a building renovation grant fund. These funds could be accessed by existing or proposed businesses to provide storefront renovations, energy efficiency upgrades or necessary maintenance. The grant would provide 1/3 of the project cost up to a certain dollar limit while the business owner would provide 2/3 of the funding through cash match or bank loan.

 

“There is a definite need, at this time, for revitalization of our downtown districts. Businesses have a tough time coming up with the cash they need to get started. And our downtowns are made up of buildings that are 100 plus years old. Sometimes a little extra funding can mean the difference between success and failure for a small business. These programs have worked in other communities to revitalize their downtowns,” said Linette Miller, Economic Development Director.

 

The remaining 10% of the funding would be reserved each year to cover the cost of administration and management of the newly established grant and loan programs. Annually the County Commission would review the fund balances and determine how much funding is needed in each of the programs and adjust the proportions accordingly. If, in the future, both funds have adequate balances, the County Commission would have the option to establish funds for other Community or Economic Development purposes.   For instance, the funding could be used to provide the local portion of various grants or programs to provide housing, attract industry, or build new infrastructure.

 

“To successfully pull off an Economic or Community Development Project, many times it comes down to local funding. There are grants and other programs to help build housing or other community needs, however, you must have local funding to pay for engineering costs or provide the match,” Miller said.

 

The sales tax rate in Kinsley would be raised to 8.525% and 7.525% 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 8.8%, Great Bend 7.9%-9.9% in special tax areas, Larned 8.650%, and Hays 8.4% – 10.4% in special tax areas.

 

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 6.150%, Edwards County collects 1% and the City of Kinsley collects 1% in sales taxes. If the measure passes, an additional .375% would be collected and be held by Edwards County to fund special economic development projects. The proposed sales tax increase will raise approximately $99,657.78 based on 2013 revenues in Edwards County.

 

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 and a portion of the burden is paid by travelers or visitors.

 

A gallon of milk costs approximately $4.00. If the sales tax question passes, $.015 cents would go toward the proposed sales tax. If you purchase $100 in groceries, the additional amount collected would equal $.38 cents. The additional amount on a $1,000 purchase would equal $3.75.

 

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