Legislature shouldn't just hand the ball to counties
One cannot help but wonder what our elected representatives are thinking about with the proposal to allow counties to implement an additional 0.5 percent sales tax. First, we elect these folks to deal with budget issues in good times and bad.
These are decisions best made at the state level, as I understand it; this tax is to partially offset Local Government Aid cuts. So by allowing less affluent counties to raise the sales tax, it takes those counties two steps back. One, they aren't on a level playing field with cuts (the intent of LGA is bring everyone's services to the same level)
Second, they then become less competitive by having extra sales tax. Imagine if Beltrami passes the additional tax and Hubbard does not (right south of Bemidji). Businesses located in Hubbard would have a half-cent advantage.
It is obvious that new businesses would locate or relocate to counties that would help them attract customers. The net result would be actually lower tax revenues for the counties that implement additional sales tax; more disparity between communities. This scenario could play out all over the state, Again the intent of LGA is to keep communities equal.
Obviously there are hard decisions to be made but, I would challenge our legislators to become more creative in their approach rather than hand the ball to the counties. I also encourage our county board to consider the possible job losses and property tax losses that would occur if these businesses close or move. With many employers just hanging on it could be devastating for our local unit of government to put them at a further disadvantage.