The push to renew the Mississippi County’s half-cent sales tax, known locally as the Economic Development Sales Tax, is underway, and as with anything community-related, opinions in the area are highly divided. I support the tax, both personally and in my work as director of the local chamber of commerce. In fact, I am so supportive of it that I have not yet heard a valid point to protest against.
I voted for this small tax for the first time in 2003 when the need for industrial development was paramount. The county was losing population, was strong with Nucor’s presence, and had every reason to believe that the industry could and would develop if only we could level the playing field in the increasingly competitive search for recruitment agencies.
The tax was passed and then renewed and has been remarkably successful, particularly in the expansion of Nucor and the acquisition of Big River Steel. Without the tax, we would have thousands of jobs LESS. Without them, we would not be the nationwide leader in steel production. Without them, it’s hard to imagine what we would be, although the word poorer comes to mind.
The economic impact goes beyond employment. Let’s not fool ourselves. Our industries bear 60% of Mississippi County’s real estate tax burden.
In other words, sixty cents of every dollar spent on our streets, our hospitals, our libraries, prisons, public safety, etc. comes from the industrial base, and it is the Economic Development Fund that is working on it Build up the basis by maintaining and expanding and adding new items.
Without this solid industrial support we would see a drastic decrease in the quality of life and / or we would all likely pay significantly more in personal and property taxes.
That is not to say that I am completely satisfied with the tax. I’m not. Despite the growth in production, we continued to lose population. Workplaces yes, residents no. Our cities do not reflect such a healthy industrial community. We might argue why it is a complex issue – but in accordance with applicable laws, the tax had limited flexibility. I am a proponent of reconsidering this law and carefully creating avenues that are oriented towards community development.
So if you share a concern that the communities could benefit more, then you must clearly vote YES. It is certain that without the tax, nothing benefits from it.
It really boils down to a simple fact: we need all the help we can get. We live in a highly competitive part of the country. Every step forward is a challenge. We can complain about a lot. Politics, leadership, poverty, mosquitoes? We find a lot to complain about in a nation that is unsettled by so many problems. But complaining brings us zero. Money gives us an opportunity.
As Mississippi County citizens, we cannot afford to stop this tax. We cannot afford to forego the slightest chance for progress.
It is our responsibility to take a thoughtful vote to resolve our problems, whether it be in choosing leaders, taxing ourselves, or choosing public policy.
In this election, the thoughtful voice is a yes.