Too many tax dollars leaving De Soto
Saturday mornings in downtown De Soto tend to be on the quiet side, but if you listen closely, you can hear the sound of money leaving the city.
De Soto residents are hopping on K-10 and taking their retail dollars to surrounding communities.
Economist Dave Darling of the Kansas State Research and Extension office says the city of De Soto is collecting about half the sales tax it should based on what he calls the town's pull factor.
The pull factor measures the strength of local retail economies. A pull factor of one indicates a city is attracting as much retail business as it is losing to other communities. A factor of less than one means a city is losing more of its own local shoppers to other communities than it is attracting from other communities.
De Soto has a pull factor of .5, indicating the city is bringing in about one-half the sales tax it should. That probably comes as no surprise to anyone who's been paying attention over the past couple of years. City officials have focused much of their economic development energy on bringing industry to De Soto. The expansion of the Sealright plant, the construction of Rehrig Pacific and the recent announcement by Intervet that it will soon be coming to town will all have a positive impact on the city's economy. However, the developments do little to alleviate the sales tax deficit De Soto is now facing.
We must offer residents viable alternatives to shopping in Lawrence, Olathe and Kansas City. To that end, the city must attract businesses such as a hardware store, clothing stores and additional medical care.
The opening of the Dollar General Store last summer was a move in the right direction, although we'd like to see it more supportive of local service groups like the chamber. Now is the time for the city to keep the momentum going. We cannot wait for business opportunities to come to De Soto. We must seek out those opportunities and show them what the town has to offer.
The bulk of that responsibility falls to the city, the economic development coordinator and the chamber of commerce, but De Soto residents must do their part as well. When at all possible, shop locally. Let city officials know what you think De Soto is missing.
Remember, every tax dollar that leaves De Soto must be collected elsewhere and that means higher property taxes, mill levies and diminished funding for infrastructure.