County Sales Tax Revenues Continue To Rise

Collections Up Seven Percent From Last Year

By Deb Hadachek Telescope News
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The latest sales tax distributions show that revenues continue to climb in Republic County compared to last year.

The April report shows a seven percent increase in sales tax collections in the county for the period July through April compared to the same time period a year ago. Fiscal year for sales tax runs from July 1 through June 30.

So far the 2 percent local tax collected has generated $946,000 countywide, compared to $883,000 a year ago.

The April distribution (which is sales tax collected two months ago) was 15 percent higher than the previous year: $89,000 compared to $77,000 for the same single month total.

In Republic County, one cent of the tax goes towards operations and maintenance at Republic County Hospital; one-half cent goes to Republic County for property tax relief; and the remaining one-half percent is divided among local cities for their operations.

An additional one-half cent is collected by businesses in Belleville city limits, started in October 2015, to pay for construction of the new city swimming pool. That half cent generated $13,000 in the most recent single month collection, up from $11,000 the previous year. So far this fiscal year the revenues for the pool tax are $144,000, compared to $126,000 a year ago.

Statewide, sales tax revenues increased about two percent, although that was lower than estimates

Groceries 20 Percent

The Rural Grocery Initiative based at Kansas State University says that on average, grocery stores generate 20 percent of a community’s sales tax.

Luke Mahin, Republic County Economic Development director, said he hopes the last month has made more rural residents value their local businesses, and given business owners ideas for ways they can adapt their products and ways to deliver services in the future.

The crisis sparked a new interest in locally and regionally-grown food and processing options, he said. The breakdown in the chain between farm-to-plate food production, with large-scale commercial processors affected by the virus, has raised awareness of the need for local businesses like locker plants.

“That’s been good. We know we can’t fill everyone’s needs, but there has been a lot of interest in that area,” he said.

He said business classes offered by RCED to people contemplating new ventures continue to be popular. People considering future business opportunities are still pursuing those projects, he said.

He complimented the Re lic County Development committee’s response to quickly get no-interest loans to business owners to preserve jobs. The RCD made 20, $20,000 loans available from the revolving account within days of authorization by state authorities.

“Other communities (with similar revolving loan funds) are just now starting to get money into the hands of businesses,” he said.

The RCD loans and the Payroll Protection Program offered through the Small Business Administration gave businesses a safety net in the early days of the shutdown, he said.

The effect of the stay home order depends on the type of business, he said. Some businesses able to stay open at least partially in April report their sales dropped 25 to 75 percent. Some restaurants and businesses like hair salons closed completely, but many of the county’s businesses are considered essential and continued to employ its workers, he noted.

“A lot of people are still working, but it just changed the way they work,” he said.

He said there will be positive outcomes to business in the aftermath of the closures.

“We have leapfrogged everyone’s technical abilities by five or 10 years,” he said. “Perhaps instead of driving two hours, more people will look to see what products are offered within 30 minutes of their homes.”