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  Saturday December 20th, 2014    

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What should property taxes pay for? (08/20/2014)
From: Paul B. Double

Winona

I too am concerned about the Historic Masonic Temple drops as are recent letter writers, who have prompted me to consider two issues:

1) The roll of city government and the use of city property taxes;

2) The reported revenue to the community from tourism.

Most people believe the role of city government is more related to public works functions such as good streets, snow removal, police and fire protection, public sewer and water. Some would add public parks, libraries and zoning. Generally these basic functions of government are created on the assumption that collectively we can do these things cheaper than individually. Thus the thrust is to save money, not spend more.

The second point involves simple facts as to what tourism generates in revenue to the community as reported by the Minnesota Department of Revenue in its annual report for Winona County 2012. The total taxable sales for performing arts and spectator sports was $125,113, which generated a whopping $8,661 in taxes. This is a total of 0.03 percent of the total state sales tax revenue of Winona County.

Distortions in reporting total leisure and tourism revenue occurs because much of what we locals do is credited to tourism revenue:

• You are a tourist from the revenue report if “You and your spouse go out for dinner in Winona.”

• You are a tourist from the revenue report if “You play golf or bowl in Winona.”

• You are a tourist from the revenue report if “You are a traveling salesman or an employee of a company and stay at a local hotel or motel.”

• You are a tourist from the revenue report if “You and your local friends when to a bar for a brew or two.”

• You are a tourist from the revenue report if “You purchase goods at a local marinas or a fitness center.”

While I agree that the quality of life in our community is good it has a cost. Collectively what is the acceptable size of the bill each of us is willing and able to pay?  

 

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