Letter to the Editor 2-22-13

Dear Editor,
In regard to the new hospital proposal, and dollars and cents:
My estimate of what the new hospital will cost the average Cloud County individual is $60 per year. (This is ASSUMING all goes as planned for the next quarter century – until the year 2036.  AND assuming that the FAA, KDOT, and all the other entities involved will be easier to deal with than the FAA was with the college and the wind turbines.) I estimate that the average citizen will spend about $8,000 PER YEAR on items that are subject to sales tax. (That is, of course, assuming that you do 90 percent of your purchasing in Cloud County.) This includes food, clothing, updating vehicles, vehicle repair, fuel, remodeling materials, some parts of utilities, furniture, Christmas gifts, entertainment, liquor, cigarettes, etc.  Sixty dollars extra per year for a new hospital- that doesn’t sound like much does it? Now multiply that by 23 and you come up with about $1,380.  Now figuring in a modest amount of inflation over the next 23 years, I estimate that the average individual will invest at least $2,000 in the new hospital over the life of the bonds. For an average family of four – that is an $8,000 investment. You may also want to factor in what the expected lifespan of the new hospital will be. The current hospital is about 60 years old. IF the proposed hospital is constructed as well as the current one, that would suggest that after 23 years, the new hospital is almost halfway way into its lifespan.
The sales tax is a ‘crafty’ tax.  From ‘Kansas Tax Facts’, the below is the history of Kansas Sales Tax Rates:
2 percent --1937
2.5 percent--1958
3 percent--- 1965
4 percent--- 1986
4.25 percent ---1989
4.9 percent---1992
5.3 percent--- 2002
6.3 percent---2010 to present
From 1965 to 1985, on the $8,000 dollars we spent annually, an extra $240 went to the state. At some point the city and the county each joined in for an additional 1 percent each, making the current rate in Concordia 8.3 percent.  The current proposal is for it to inch over nine percent in Concordia, which would be a total of $724 per year of sales tax to the various entities.
For lack of a better term, I am going to call it the ‘Tax Creep Bogie’ (TCB for short).  In the vein of my old favorite ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ – "all you gotta do to join is- - - ."  To do the TCB you gently shuffle forward. For a few steps you can go sideways, but NEVER backwards. Is there a ‘ceiling’ to how high sales taxes can go? One would like to think so – but evidently not.
Don’t get me wrong- I think the sales tax is better than the property tax for funding a hospital. It is more equally shared by all citizens. As a rule, the sales tax is more of a burden for lower income families, but it is a tax that you can control. Just don’t buy stuff. Trade, barter, salvage, buy privately, make do, buy used, etc.
Anyway, there you have it. If you want to ‘join in’ on the Tax Creep Bogie, and you want all the other people in Cloud County to do the TCB with you, and have a brand new hospital next to the airport, take your chances with the FAA, build all new infrastructure, etc. – then you vote "Yes."
On the other hand, if you think there needs to be a more reasonable approach to updating the hospital, then you vote "No."

Respectfully,
Ron Elniff

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