Buying local is promoted

Published 12:25 pm Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Buying local helps more than those businesses in the county, it also can boost part of the revenue that goes into the county’s general fund.

That’s the argument behind the Lawrence County Commissioners naming March as “Buy In Lawrence County Month.”

“We are asking the people if they can, purchase what they need in Lawrence County,” Commission President Les Boggs said. “The reason being it does help out our emergency services with the half-percent sales tax. And not only the emergency, the 1 percent goes into our operating budget.”

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Just over 50 percent of the county’s operating budget comes from sales tax and 100 percent of the emergency services funds come from sales tax. Except for purchases of food from grocery stores and take-out orders from restaurants, consumers in the county pay 7 percent in sales tax — 5.5 percent goes to the state and 1.5 percent to the county.

One percent goes into the operating budget and one-half percent to the emergency services fund. A total of $7,950,000 is estimated to come in this year.

“We won’t be able to determine how much in 2014 for several months down the road,” Boggs said. “The state processes two or three months behind. We felt like we wanted to help local businesses. We are asking people to make a special effort. It might be closer to go to Ashland, but I could run up to Burlington.”

In March 2013 a total of $729,107.13 in sales tax came into the county and this March’s figures won’t be available until June from the state.

“It is going to help our public safety and our operating budget,” Commissioner Freddie Hayes Jr., said. “It is a good thing to keep everything we can in Lawrence County. It will boost our taxes.”

Certified for the operating budget in 2014 is $4,930,000 in sales tax but $2,350,000 for the emergency services. Boggs has continually contended that the emergency services fund has been shortchanged since it should be 50 percent of the amount in the operating budget. The budget commission, however, certified $115,000 less so there would be a sufficient carryover to cover bills in January 2015 when there are three pay periods instead of the usual two.

“This is an issue we have pushed before since so much of our revenue is based on sales tax and not a lot of it is generated by Lawrence County people but out of state,” Commissioner Bill Pratt said. “A sales tax is the fairest tax there is because people can regulate that tax as to how they choose to spend their money.”