Attorney has ideas to grow businesses, generate more local sales tax and investment

Posted 6 November 2016 at 9:09 pm


Your editorial of October 31st about increasing County sales tax revenue was spot on. (Click here to see “Editorial: To lower taxes and strengthen economy in Orleans, local officials should grow sales tax.”)

We do need to take advantage of existing assets – Historic, Heritage Trails, Fishing etc.  But in the end increasing “in-county” purchases requires we have the businesses in place to make the sales and wage earners with sufficient disposable income.

Here’s the basis of a plan for discussion.

1) The IDA needs more money to find manufactures and create higher income jobs. I was the IDA attorney for over a decade. Even though it’s a bit harder to know what they are doing as they no longer file with the county, it’s clear that have completed projects, and implemented policies, that I dreamed of back when. Additional funding, including for more staff to get things done faster and better, is a priority.

2) There is a need for significant expansion of the IDA’s micro-enterprise program. Large businesses like Walmart are one-offs. The micro-enterprise program provides training and financial assistance to participants who will start the small business that will be involved with capitalizing on the existing assets you mentioned. Additional funding in the way of County and Local grants is a priority. In our situation hitting a lot of singles can be a big lift.

3) We need to look out after ourselves better. Federal mandates, especially since Reagan, have increased the local responsibility which are paid for by property tax increases. That’s hard on poor counties like ours. Worse, more property tax means people have less disposable income.

We need to join with other smaller counties and collectively design alternatives that fit our needs and abilities; back in the Clinton Presidency trial programs were encouraged and we need to push for that once more. Similarly, we need to recognize that federal income tax reductions have never worked quite as advertised when it comes spurring growth. Worse, for low-income counties like ours, the benefit from income tax cuts ends up going to higher earners in other counties. We need to support what will work for us. We need leadership which is not tied to the past with slogans and stale ideas.

There is no one out there who will just up and solve our problems. Fortunately, there are some tools in place which we can leverage. We need to fund them and forge our own path no matter what others want us to think or believe. Sales taxes will increase if when we figure out what actually will help us and we then do it.

Conrad F. Cropsey