Frances Edstrom

Where would you shop?


by Frances Edstrom

Friday, we came to work to find everyone busy putting up a Christmas tree in our front window, and next door at the Consignment Shoppe, three young girls playing Christmas carols in that window. There were rides available in a horse-drawn sleigh around the downtown area, the city crews have the decorations up, and most of the downtown merchants have decorated their store fronts with greenery.

Linda handed out the annual notice of the Winona Post Christmas party and stocking party to all the staff. Luckily, we had already decided to celebrate the Christmas party in January (horrors!), so Linda will be back for that.

All of this put me in a pretty mellow mood until I read Amanda's story for today's paper about the County Board investigating the possibility of a county-wide sales tax that would pay for a new jail if indeed a new jail must be built.

I have no doubt that we will be looking at building a new jail, even though county commissioner Marcia Ward is dead-set against the idea. With more arrests looming with the .08 blood alcohol limit coming in January, and the U.S. Attorney General directing County Attorneys to do less plea bargaining, we are sure to have an increased jail population, and the state seems determined that this population will be well-served.

The possible county sales tax, on top of the city of Winona's proposed sales tax will put Winona retail merchants in a very bad position vis-a-vis their Wisconsin competition.

La Crosse merchants operate with a five and a-half cent sales tax, and Winona, if even one of the sales tax proposals is passed, will be at least at six percent. If both pass, who knows how high the sales tax in Winona will go.

Where would you shop?

The only thing about this scenario that brings a chuckle is to think that the city's proposed sales tax, which in part will pay for the infrastructure to accommodate the arrival of the Wal-Mart superstore, may actually make people to drive to La Crosse to shop in that Wal-Mart instead of Winona's. Less shopping in Winona means less tax collected.

Does this make any sense?


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