From all indications, the current cotton crop may set a record this year. With that in mind, you may feel the urge to pull a few more bills out of your pocketbooks this holiday season.
When you do so, you should reinvest those dollars in the local economy. Buying local not only benefits the unique Altus marketplace, it also generates tax revenue that benefits all citizens. Local sales tax revenue represents the second largest revenue source for the City of Altus General Fund. Transfers from the Municipal Authority are the largest with 54 percent, which the city derives from your utility services. In reality, the Municipal Authority revenue should reinvest those funds to replace or expand the city’s infrastructure.
The city operates on about a $14 million budget.
Unlike county governments, which receive ad valorem (or property) taxes, cities and towns in Oklahoma rely heavily on the local sales tax. The City of Altus receives about $5 million a year in sales tax which is set at 2 percent for the city. The state collects an additional 1.75 percent for the Altus Metropolitan Area Projects (or MAPS) sales tax, half of which goes to the Altus Public Schools and the other half toward to the city for economic development and specific projects.
Altus Chief Financial Officer Jan Neufeld says residents don’t understand how dependent the city is on the sales tax.
If you shop online and don’t pay local sales taxes on your goods, you’re not only hurting local businesses, you’re also diminishing the city’s ability to hire police officers and firefighters to protect your property, among other services.
In reality, when you buy online you are supposed to pay local sales taxes on their annual state tax forms, but almost no one does. Neufeld said the Oklahoma Tax Commission has been working on a way to recover those taxes.
Besides the effect on local taxes, money spent within a community circulates through many businesses and helps support the local economy.
Just think of the many hands that touch the farming industry here. Without local cooperatives, individual farmers would suffer to get supplies such as water, fertilizer and insecticides at reasonable prices. That doesn’t even take in the cotton gins or storing wheat grain.
The same concept applies to maintaining a strong city government. We have services such as police and fire protection, roads and utilities that make our quality of life better.
Before you get all excited about shopping on Cyber Monday or driving to another city to shop, consider reinvesting those extra dollars you make off your successful cotton crop this year in your own community.
If you haven’t found unique gifts in Altus, you haven’t been downtown. Shop local and help build a better city.