Chamber Endorses Proposed Sales Tax

The Salina Area Chamber of Commerce is in favor of a proposed sales that voters in Salina will decide on in a mail-in election this spring.

According to the organization, the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has endorsed the proposed special tax initiative by the City of Salina. The initiative will be a mail-in ballot election from April 20-May 10, asking Salina residents to replace the current special sales tax of .4 percent with a .75 percent sales tax for capital improvements and other community needs for a term of 20 years. If approved, the Salina tax rate would go from 8.40 percent to 8.75 percent.

According to City of Salina officials, the current capital improvement sales tax will expire in early 2019, and is not sufficient to meet all community needs, particularly street maintenance, park improvements and economic development.

“No one likes taxes but the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce is supportive of this Special Sales Tax,” stated Brian Richardson, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce. “Our community has been fortunate for years to have had one of the lowest sales tax rates in the state of Kansas. In our competitive set of comparable cities, we are currently 17th lowest out of 19 communities. Some of these communities include Hutchinson, Lawrence, McPherson, Hays, Manhattan, Junction City, Topeka, and Wichita. Even with the new proposed tax increase, Salina will still be the 15th lowest. Salina competes every day for people to live, work, and shop in our great community. These other communities with higher sales tax rates are enticing residents, employees, and businesses with incentives and quality of life improvements. Salina currently has a lot of positive things underway to address quality of life improvements, with a significant level of private funding. The Salina Chamber believes that local governments need to continue to be fiscally responsible, but we have many deteriorating streets, an aging sewer and water line system, and parks with amenities that require significant ongoing upgrades. Sales tax is an attractive funding mechanism for Salina. An estimated 30% of our sales tax revenue is generated by non-residents…also users of our facilities, infrastructure and amenities. Through this opportunity, Salina will also have more funding available to assist in recruiting/incentivizing new businesses to call Salina home, and existing businesses to expand. If we want to remain being a desired community to live, work, and visit, we need to take progressive steps for that to happen.”

If approved, annual allocation considerations include neighborhood streets, bridges and drainage; park improvements; Smoky Hill River; economic development; property tax stabilization; and other projects facilities and equipment.