Councilwoman Mary Jo Hafen recently commented as she visited with some of our Santa Clara citizens, something came to her attention that surprised both of us. It seems that many of our residents are not aware of the impact they can have personally on the Santa Clara economy by a simple thing like SHOPPING in SANTA CLARA whenever possible. Since you may be one of those who has been unclear as to the importance of shopping locally, let me share a few thoughts for you to consider and remind your friends and neighbors. Fifty percent of every sales tax dollar collected at a Santa Clara business stays here to support things such as roads, public safety, fire protection, parks, and other city services. The other fifty percent is redistributed throughout the state based on population.
Money spent in Santa Clara supports local services in Santa Clara. A 2004 study found that for every $100 spent at a local business, approximately $68 remained in the community versus $43 for national chain stores and if you shop online virtually no money stays local. Studies have also shown that property values increase when the town has vibrant neighborhood shopping. This helps fund essential city services such as fire and police protection lessening the burden on property tax. Local businesses provide shopping convenience as well as jobs for our residents. Harmon’s is the largest employer of Santa Clara Residents. Local businesses are also more likely to donate to local causes and support community programs such as little league, scouting, school activities, Swiss Days, etc. Let’s help keep them in business and give other businesses the incentive to locate here. Doing so will help keep property taxes lower and improve the quality of services the city can provide.
On August 16th, the Washington County Commission decided to place the proposed quarter-cent local transportation option sales tax (one penny for every $4 dollars), on the November election ballot for voters to decide. The proposal will not apply to medical bills, food, utilities, mortgages, loan payments, fuel, or prescription drugs. The proposed local option is by law dedicated to fund much needed local transportation system maintenance and improvements. If voters in Washington County approve the proposal, the bill would allocate 40 percent of the funds collected to cities and towns and 60 percent to Washington County; with specific provisions to provide additional funding for SunTrans where the transit service exists. Gas tax revenues have not kept up with maintenance needs forcing local cities including Santa Clara to delay important road repairs or use general fund money to address the problems. That means less money is available for critical services like public safety and utilities.
It is estimated 40% of the new sales tax will be paid by visitors who live outside of Washington County. Neglecting our roads cost each of us much more in the long run. Ultimately, if not from the local option, localities will have to offset the rising transportation maintenance costs with other mechanisms such as raising property tax or street maintenance fees. These new funds cannot be allocated anywhere other than for transportation improvements by law. They can fund additional street pavement maintenance, and construction of sidewalk, trails and bike paths within the community. Choosing to maintain our roads today is the financially responsible and fiscally conservative approach for the community. Roads do not last forever, for every $1 we invest now in maintaining our road infrastructure, we save $6 in future road repair costs, and up to $25 in road reconstruction work. Voters get to decide what the next step is. Take the time to review the proposal and let your voice be heard in the November election.
On a lighter note, Swiss Days is rapidly approaching and should be a great time for everyone. I hope everyone en-joys the cooling temperatures and the wonderful fall season. It’s always my favorite time of year. Until next month, stay safe Santa Clara.
Mayor Rick Rosenberg, firstname.lastname@example.org