If you don’t think it pays to shop at home, consider that local sales taxes raised $2.74 million last year, or nearly one-quarter of the borough’s $12 million budget.
That’s right. About one of every four dollars needed to run our town is generated when people buy and sell things here.
Now, you might still feel smart about buying at box stores or on the Internet and “getting out of” paying local sales tax. Some of our non-profit organizations, for example, have “saved money” by buying food for fundraising dinners at big box stores in Juneau.
The rub is that the cost of operating our municipality – paying for things like teachers, ambulance service, our swimming pool – doesn’t go away. It mostly goes up. Money you “save” by shopping out of town amounts to lost sales tax income for the Haines Borough. The borough will make up that loss either by increasing your property taxes, raising fees for local services and facilities, or cutting the programs and amenities it provides.
Or, maybe the borough won’t have enough money to make its annual contribution to your favorite non-profit.
You can think about shopping out of town as saving money. But you can just as well consider it your own, personal contribution toward closing our swimming pool or eliminating a program your child enjoys at the Haines School.
If you’re a local government worker or a person who does business with the Haines Borough, you might just spend enough out of town to eliminate the funding that provides you with a paycheck.
An old, streetwise expression about understanding the world is, “Follow the money.” A dollar spent out of town goes away for a long time and may never return. A dollar spent in Haines starts working for you right away – as sales tax. And it stands a fair chance of landing back in your pocket when your neighbor, too, chooses to shop at home.
- Tom Morphet