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I have been following the dialogue pro and con relating to the proposed Town recreation center and a sales tax increase to 7.9 percent. I am struck by the fact there seems to be a lack of understanding by the proponents regarding the evolving spending habits of consumers. Failure to recognize this has put many well known retailers out of business and crippled the economies of many communities.
The internet provides the opportunity to purchase almost everything needed without ever leaving home. LL Bean is just a click away with no shipping charges and no sales tax. I haven’t been purchasing the bulk of our groceries online but it’s a rapidly growing trend with home delivery and no sales tax. I recently read an article on consumer spending habits which told about a man who started buying his 40lb bags of dog food from Amazon. No more hauling heavy bags across the grocery store parking lot as UPS delivers them directly to his door. While humorous it illustrates how people are buying more on the Internet and not at “brick and mortar” stores. As I understand a recent court ruling, a business must have a nexus such as a warehouse or store in the state in order to be required to collect sales tax.
Most agree consumers like choices when shopping. What do you think will happen to local sales tax dollars when Target builds in the area near Mercy Hospital? A mid level Wal-Mart and a Tractor Store will not stem the flow of dollars down U.S. 160 where the choices will be far greater. What makes those who want to bet the financial future of this community on a second recreation center think the spending habits of people who live here will be any different from those nationwide?
Pagosa has a history of believing the so called experts when dealing with an “I want” issue only to discover the experts were wrong. Consider the wild predictions of population growth and associated revenues when it came to justifying the need for Dry Gulch Reservoir. PAWSD rate payers are paying dearly for that misguided decision every month and for many years to come. The same could happen to the residents of the Town.
Let those who think a fourth swimming pool and a fourth gymnasium in this very small community are the answers to our economic needs go the crowd funding route and see if they have the same support as Reservoir Wilderness Park and the Skate Pavilion. Citizens want to self determine how their money is spent rather than having it dictated through a tax increase. Perhaps in the future if the financial security of the Town is not placed in jeopardy, and the residents of this community feel the need is warranted, a second recreation center may be possible. Until that time comes, the Town should not obligate itself to a possible $45 million in debt. Vote no.