Local sales tax could help Blue Earth finances

The city of Blue Earth is contemplating asking voters to approve a 0.5 percent local option sales tax. Such a vote could take place this fall.

Blue Earth has made no decisions about how to use the additional revenue, which is expected to be in the range of $165,000 annually. Some thoughts include using the funds for the wastewater treatment plant, street projects, or parks and recreation. The new revenue also could help hold down property taxes in the future.

We believe that if Blue Earth makes wise choices about where to spend the money and commits to those choices so residents know ahead of time, a local option sales tax could be a good idea. We are particularly intrigued by the notion of the city using the funds as a new pot of revenue that can help spread out the burden of paying for local government.

Sales taxes are paid by everyone who shops in a city, so Blue Earth would benefit from those who come to town to buy things. But those folks would hardly notice the difference on their receipts. And the city would gain the revenue pool, coming in addition to property taxes, state aid, fees and liquor store profits.

In any matter involving taxes, we always hope that our governments are also taking an extremely close look at how they spend money. Governments have a responsibility to ensure they are not needlessly asking citizens for more when government could find ways to do less.