In my opinion, the case for a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pullman has been made. In a recent Moscow-Pullman Daily News article (“Real estate tax won’t be the savior once thought”, June 14), it was reported that Pullman lost $1.3 million per year from the elimination of the motor vehicle excise tax (I-695). City Supervisor John Sherman stated: “...a solid, ongoing expansion of our tax base. Not only property tax, but utility tax. We’re also looking at expanding our sales tax base. We’re very interested in expanding our commercial sector.” A Wal-Mart Supercenter would fit all of those needs nicely. The City of Pullman will receive an .85 percent sales tax on all business done there. Whitman County will receive .15 percent of sales in tax revenue. There will also be a one time lump sum sales tax on the multi-million dollar construction of the Wal-Mart building, as well as yearly utility and property taxes. Plus, as has happened in Moscow, other stores will open up around Wal-Mart and generate even more tax revenue for the city. All this means millions more for the city and county over the years to come.
I realize that there is some opposition to a Wal-Mart in Pullman. However, to those detractors, I would say: “How do you propose to resolve the city’s revenue crisis?” Wal-Mart is willing to build NOW. With only one mid-size multi-purpose retail store in town, our tax money is being exported to Moscow, Lewiston and Spokane when Pullman desperately needs it. I don’t think we can hold out for the slight possibility of another, more politically correct big box store down the line locating in Pullman. Personally, I don’t care what people in other towns have done. In Pullman, our situation is this: Over 20,000 people attend or work for an organization (Washington State University) that pays no property taxes and generates no sales tax revenue. At the same time, those people require services such as schools, sidewalks, fire, police, etc. from the city.
Anyone can see Pullman’s dilemma. That is why Whitman County is the only county in Washington that is party to a lawsuit trying to overturn I-747, which limits property-tax growth to 1 percent a year. The money has to come from somewhere. I would rather see a Wal-Mart than sky-high property taxes. It's hard enough as it is finding affordable housing in Pullman.
Let’s all unite behind welcoming Wal-Mart. It’s the right thing to do for Pullman.