(1) Expanding the Tax Base

Many Kansas towns are experiencing negative population growth — shrinking, if you will. In order to remain an independent, thriving community, the greater Newton area must plan its growth.

Spreading Costs

“Expanding the tax base” isn’t a fancy way of saying “increasing taxes.” On the contrary, expanding the tax base is about creating more assets on the tax rolls (e.g., new or improved business properties, homes, and rental properties) to spread the cost of operations across more entities. This will result in more money to enhance government-funded community features that add to Newton’s quality of life — everything from libraries to roads.

Diversifying Investments

Assistant City Manager Tim Johnson pointed out that it is important for the City not to put all of its eggs in one basket. The tax base must be expanded across the board, through new businesses and jobs, expansion and maintenance of existing businesses, and new and maintained housing.

“Think of your local economy as you would your investment portfolio. You choose a broad range of investment devices in order to both spread your risk and to provide yourself as many potential opportunities for reward as possible,” Johnson said. “We do the same thing in economic development venues. We want to spread our risk and increase our opportunities.

“So, whether it is the Tindall Corporation, that will be coming to Newton in 2011, or whether it’s a new family start-up business on Main Street, they’re equally important, and they’re equally valuable to our local economy.”

The Plan

To expand the tax base, the plan encourages the community to:

  • Nurture and support homegrown businesses to create new jobs, which will in turn increase tax revenues.
  • Recruit new, larger employers to the community, focusing on those that have values in sync with the community’s vision — and bring with them well-paying jobs and new residents.
  • Strategically market the town to new residents, especially targeting retirees, middle- and high-income families, and young professionals.
  • Instill in the community the philosophy that shopping and conducting business locally gives Newton the resources it needs to maintain and improve its quality of life.

As the tax base grows, the community will enjoy the benefits of new tax money.

“I believe we've learned to win, we've learned to have success. So that translates to community pride, and that translates to even more success,” Bill Hake, steering committee member, said. “I'm terribly excited about what's going on; can't wait to see what's next.”

Insights

“If a community isn’t growing, it’s dying. And planning for that growth is essential. Dreams without a plan are just dreams. Dreams with a plan become a vision.”
— Carl Harris, steering committee member and former city commissioner

“Expanding the tax base is critical for the funds needed for a community to grow. I've been in the community for nearly 30 years; when I first came, my complaint was that the community was too conservative, that we were risk-averse. And that has changed since we've done some of the projects that we've done, including Sand Creek Station Golf Course.”
— Bill Hake, steering committee member