We all love the rolling mountains, the tall pines and the expanded vistas that surround Prescott. In our communities, Open Space is prized and treasured; so much so, that voters approved a special tax to be divided between the purchase of Open Space and roads. Every time the Prescott City Council approves a purchase of Open Space land, the residents of this community are generally pleased.
So, how can the citizens ensure that there are plenty of funds in the Open Space account? How can they contribute to the surrounding beauty that Prescott is so blessed with?
Shop at WalMart. And the mall. And other local retail stores within the Prescott city limits. And Lowes, when it opens.
Yep, it's true, if you'll switch your allegience from Home Depot to Lowe's when it opens, you will be helping the Open Space fund. Every time you make a purchase at WalMart, or Albertson's or Dillards or any of the other "big box retailers" as they are often derisively referred to, you are contributing to the Open Space account.
You see, the Open Space money comes entirely from sales tax revenue. The fact is, if there were no sales tax revenue, there would be no money in the Open Space fund, and it's as simple as that.
Recently, the City of Prescott introduced their Annual Budget for 2008. It's pretty hefty. And, like past budgets, it relies heavily on sales tax revenue.
"It matters where people shop," said Mark Woodfill, the Budget and Finance Director for the City of Prescott. Woodfill explained that the robust sales tax allows the property taxes to remain low. "The Council has made a conscious decision not to burden citizens with high property taxes," Woodfill said.Here are some interesting facts about the City of Prescott's budget for 2007:
- Property tax in the City of Prescott is lower than that of Yavapai County
- Budgeted revenues for 2007 are $33,667,653. Of that about 45%, or $15,174,828 comes from local sales tax.
- Revenue from State sales tax adds another $4,512,412
- Revenue from property tax is only $1,128,971
People have been known to comment that they would rather pay higher property taxes than have more "big box retail stores" come to Prescott. But, how much higher? A store like WalMart or Lowe's has the potential to bring in as much in sales tax revenue as all the property taxes in Prescott combined.
Stores like Home Depot or Target don't contribute any sales tax at all to the City's revenue, because they are not in the city limits. These stores are on land belonging to the Yavapai Indian Tribe, along with Bucky's, the Resort and Bashas.
Are you willing to let WalMart operate in another community like Prescott Valley or Chino Valley, or on the tribe's land? Be aware that it will mean a significant loss to the city coffers. And if you are willing, Woodfill asks, "What service level are you willing to give up?"
If you don't want to close parks and reduce recreation opportunities in Prescott, if you like the fact that the Library has extended hours, if you're not willing for the Fire Department to take longer to arrive at your burning home, then it's time to appreciate the sales tax. And, a large majority of that tax revenue comes from "big box retailers."
So, go ahead, shop at WalMart! And, when Lowe's opens, give them a try. The Open Space fund will be healthier for it.