The lure of money

HUMBOLDT — Humboldt City Council decided Monday to offer a developer responsible for bringing Dollar General to Humboldt a 50 percent share in city sales taxes collected at the store for five years.
“This type of policy is popular in other states,” said City Administrator Larry Tucker. Sharing sales tax revenue is “fairly new to Kansas,” however, Tucker said.
Tucker said the agreement was basically a goodwill gesture to elicit interest of other businesses looking to locate in Southeast Kansas. In the Dollar General case, the point is moot, because the business has agreed to locate in Humboldt regardless.
Nevertheless, “We can use this as a tool to recruit business,” Tucker told the council. Hopefully, he said, some of those businesses will also choose to build on the 4.4-acre site the city is in the process of purchasing on the north edge of town.
Craig VanWey, regional project manager for the Kansas Department of Commerce told the council that other incentives exist to lure businesses to Kansas communities of fewer than 2,500 people. Income tax credits and sales tax exemptions on materials needed to build or expand a business are both available from the state, he said. The tax breaks are also available to businesses that add at least two new employees, VanWey said. In addition, grants are available to train existing work force in new skills, he said.

THE COUNCIL approved Monday the city’s budget as amended in the special budget workshop on July 27. General fund expenditures were increased by $4,000 to retain a public works position scheduled to be cut in the preliminary budget; swimming pool expenses were increased to allow for purchase of pool chemicals; and the library budget was adjusted so the city would take over paying for the building’s insurance, as discussed at the July meeting.
Pool usage and revenue were both up this year, pool managers reported.
Tucker told the council that due to property tax valuations dropping this year, actual ad valorem tax dollars collected will be less than last year. The change represents a 0.6 percent increase in ad valorem tax, however.
Overall, Tucker said, Humboldt taxes are low.
“I analyzed 26 communities around Southeast Kansas, and Humboldt is very competitive for our property tax rate.” Of the 26 towns examined, Humboldt ranked 11th in per capita tax rate. Iola ranked fourth, and Chanute third in per capita tax levels.
Total expenditures in the 2010 budget are $3,865,533. The tax levy stands at $387,133.