Sales tax for jail is a bad idea

Finally, we know the commissioner?s decision on how they plan to finance a new 72-bed jail-for-hire. They?ll ask us to approve a 1 percent county-wide sales tax on the November general-election ballot.

It?s no secret that I oppose this idea. It is my opinion that a 1 percent sales tax would put our businesses?and everyone living in the county?in peril.

Forget for a moment that the jail-for-hire concept is risky. I don?t think anyone could say that having the highest sales taxes in the state of Kansas would be a good thing. While it would harm big-ticket businesses in Hillsboro the most, it would have a negative impact on the entire county.

All of the revenue projections that an additional 1 percent sales tax would generate are based on assumptions of sales numbers remaining at current levels.

To my knowledge, our big-ticket businesses haven?t had a visit from our commissioners to date, even though they have talked with car dealers from outside of our county. The commissioners do know how our car dealers feel about the subject, since several dealers attended earlier public meetings at the courthouse.

The Free Press ran a story explaining how sales tax is collected on vehicle sales March 29, 2006. To read this article, go to and then search the exact words ?A Sales Tax Primer.?

In a nutshell, the tax is paid at the rate being charged where the vehicle is purchased. Then, if the buyer lives in a county or city where the tax is higher, the difference is paid when the vehicle is registered at the courthouse in the county of residence.

Having the highest sales-tax rate in the state works great for the our county no matter where a Marion County resident purchases a vehicle. But, when a buyer from a lower-tax county or city buys in Hillsboro, the buyer still has to pay Hillsboro?s rate?which would be 8.3 percent if the sales-tax initiative passes.

So, for example, if a Wichita buyer comes to Hillsboro, he pays 8.3 percent on the vehicle. If he buys in Wichita he pays the rate there of 6.3 percent. The difference on a $30,000 vehicle would be $600.

The proposed sales-tax increase is like building a fence around our biggest tax-generating businesses in the county because our local businesses rely a great deal on generating business from outside our county.

Keep in mind the fairy tale about killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Except in our case, the scenario is real.

There?s more to the jail issue than the money. I?ll get to that in the coming weeks.

I?m glad to have a forum to outline my opinions. You also have a forum through letters to the editor. We invite your input on this crucial issue that will appear on the November ballot?or any other topic you choose.


Last week I decided to take an informal survey on how people feel about the proposed new jail and the new tax to pay for it. During four days of asking people up and down the street and at other public gatherings, I did not find one person who favored the the project as proposed by our county commissioners.


Just so you know, we now have eCommerce on our Free Press Web site for items other than classified ads and display ads.

To begin with, we are offering our books for secure purchase online with a credit card. The Hillsboro and Marion photo books, the Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church fire book and the Story and Spelling of Low German books are now available.

We will be adding more titles and other items as we grow into it. Who knows, you might be able to order Hillsboro smoked sausage in the future.

You can find our shopping cart on the left navigation bar.


We?re getting keyed up for our 10th birthday party which we?ll celebrate during the Marion County Fair beginning July 23.

It?s a big milestone for us, as many startup free newspapers fail. We have had a lot of help along the way, including our loyal advertisers and readers.

Visit our booth in the commercial building during the fair.

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