Mandan News

Ellen Huber: Benefits of shopping local

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“Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” are past. These are the ceremonial beginnings of the Christmas shopping season, defined as the Friday and Monday after Thanksgiving Day. These days offer discounts and convenience. Still, there are many benefits to shopping local when possible and feasible. My timing might be late, but these benefits are worth mentioning anyway.

The city of Mandan has a 1 percent local sales tax with a cap of $25 per sale. Since voters approved the city sales tax in 1991, collections have been used:

• 40 percent for property tax relief;

• 27 percent for street, water and sewer improvements;

• 29 percent to economic development and direct assistance to new and expanding businesses; and

• 4 percent for municipal debt reduction.

To give you a better idea of the significance of the property tax relief, consider that Mandan residents would see a bill nearly 15 mills higher, or about $67 more per $100,000 in residential value, without an offset from local sales tax.

The Mandan City Commission also approves the use of sales tax revenue to pay for a portion of arterial street and infrastructure projects that benefit the entire community. This reduces the special assessment burden on adjacent property owners. Recent examples include the Collins Avenue and Mandan Avenue reconstructions.

Mandan’s sales tax collections reached a record $1.47 million in 2007 and 2008. Collections for 2009 are down 5.8 percent through October’s end, compared to the same period a year ago. Imagine if we could increase those collections in the future through greater patronage of existing Mandan businesses and recruitment of new businesses. Property taxes and special assessments could be significantly reduced.

Other benefits of shopping locally include improved community amenities. Mandan has a 2 percent hotel occupancy tax, and a lodging and restaurant tax of 1 percent, that aid in these enhancements.

Collections from the 2 percent lodging tax are to be used to promote, encourage, and attract visitors to come to the City and use the travel and tourism facilities within the City. Mandan currently collects about $43,000 annually, providing 90 percent to the Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau and 10 percent to the Mandan Community Center.

Revenue from the 1 percent lodging and restaurant tax makes up the Visitors Fund, which is used for the purchase, equipping, improving, construction, maintenance, repair, and acquisition of buildings or property consistent with visitor attraction and promotion. Sometimes referred to as the “bed and booze tax,” it currently generates about $264,000 annually. Again, about 20 percent has been going to the Mandan Community Center. Other recent uses include the Veteran’s Memorial Ballpark, Harmon Lake, the Longfellow Veterans Memorial Park being established beneath the Liberty Memorial Bridge, the Mandan Historical Society Heritage Home Tour, Ft. Lincoln Commissary, improvements to the former beanery building for the Mandan Progress Organization, and the electronic monument sign on East Main Street.

Other benefits of shopping locally are support for the jobs these businesses provide. It is also about neighbors helping neighbors. Local businesses donate to hometown youth and civic groups, events, charities and other means of making our community a better place to live and play. When is the last time a local basketball team received a donation from Amazon.com?

When you shop in Mandan, you’re increasing chances for new services and more merchandise to come our way by demonstrating hometown loyalty. Businesses contemplating a Mandan location see residents willing to support ventures that meet their needs.

If you can’t get what you’re seeking from a Mandan business, buy it in Bismarck or another neighboring community. At least try to buy it in North Dakota. It keeps the benefits close at hand.