Re: 2018 elections, taxes and enterprise zones — A special section, 2018 Progress, in the March 28 Buffalo Reflex gave a great update about “economic developments” in Dallas County. The article also raises questions if it is closely read.
Enterprise zones are being created to incentivize “small manufacturers and small businesses” to come to the county. This will include “tax abatements of up to 50 percent and can be used to expand present buildings.” No information on the location of these zones is provided and very little data other than they won’t include “retail, churches or the education sector.”
We don’t know who presently owns these areas and what in this context constitutes retail or manufacturing. Is a muffler shop or an auto body repair shop defined as retail, services or manufacturing? Exhaust pipes are bent and fitted, fenders painted, and new parts are installed — how is this materially different to a “manufacturing” facility where parts are machined and altered, and various parts assembled to make a new item?
What about expanding present buildings? Will a current owner be allowed to expand a building and then claim a tax abatement? There are many enterprise zone questions that probably won’t be answered before the changes are implemented, and we will live with them. Ask the candidates these questions as they campaign for this year’s elections. All tax abatements are at the expense of current taxpayers.
The county commission representative once again decried the status of the county general revenue fund and issued a veiled threat of cuts to law enforcement services. The majority of the county law enforcement budget comes from its own tax source, not the general revenue fund.
The general revenue fund inflow increases at the same rate of inflation. As prices for goods and services increase because of inflation or other economic pressures, so do the sales tax revenues the county receives as a direct percentage charged on those sales. This is how tax systems work at all levels of government.
The county general revenue fund, funded by sales taxes, is managed by the county commission. Perhaps the problem is funds management, not the amount of sales taxes collected. Revenues fall short when unprogrammed spending occurs.
Providing tax abatements to some will add to the tax burden of the current taxpayers. The receivers of the abatements will expect and receive the same level of community services as those footing the bills. How is this fair?