The Moscow-Pullman Daily News described Pullman Finance Director Troy Woo’s recent report to the City Council as follows:
The tone of Troy Woo’s voice was grim as he gave a preview of the “bare bones” 2006 budget for the city of Pullman to the City Council Tuesday night.As usual, medical and salary expenses are going up. And there is the little matter of $191,210 that the Pullman Fire Department has requested. The fire department has been told that is unlikely enough money will be available in the 2006 budget to meet this request. As I have said before, the Neros of PARD will fiddle while Pullman burns.
Yes, the city has seen record numbers of building permits issued this year. But as pointed out by Mark Bordsen, Whitman County planner, "The county really needs sales tax revenue. A house doesn't support that."
Construction at WSU and at the Port of Whitman County is virtually useless, as construction materials for high-tech and biotechnology projects are tax-exempt, and in any case, they are not subject to property taxes after they are built.
Gee, we’ll get a one-time shot from the $86 million reconstruction of the CUB, but again, it is exempt from property taxes.
The article reiterated the damaging effects of I-695 and I-747. The city has lost about $1.3 million in annual revenues and a cap has been put on property taxes, the city’s biggest source of revenue.
Can anyone be so obtuse that they can’t see how Wal-Mart would be the shot-in-the-arm our city finances need?
PARD acknowledges that Wal-Mart will bring in increased sales tax revenue, but they claim any increase will be offset by the social services needed to support the poor Wal-Mart workers who will get paid "slave wages" and receive no benefits.
This in intellectual dishonesty at its worst. PARD took one unsubstantiated story and used it over and over as an argument against tax benefits. It was posted on the liberal Vision 2020 message board story about how the Sojourner’s Alliance of Moscow paid out 14% of it support to Wal-Mart employees and their families and theorizes about how much that costs the state of Idaho.
What is true one place may not be true in another. First of all, find me any retailer anywhere that doesn’t have SOMEONE on public assistance. Secondly, Pullman’s demographics do not support that theory. The average resident of Pullman is 22.5 years old, attends school, is single, has no children, and lives with at least one or more roommate. This is not the typical candidate for welfare or the typical holder of a “family-wage” job. Plus, students have medical benefits through the university. Therefore, it is unlikely that any additional people will be thrown onto public assistance. How would Wal-Mart create poverty anyway? Washington has the highest minimum wage in the country. Pullman has the lowest unemployment rate in the state. No one will put a gun to anyone’s head to work at Wal-Mart. There are dozens are “family-wage” jobs in Pullman that are going begging for applicants right now. But I digress.
The worse half-truth of all is just who pays for social services anyway. In Washington State, the Department of Social and Health Services provides food stamps, cash assistance, indigent health care, etc. Yes, 52% (as of the 2001-2003 biennium) of DSHS’s budget comes from retail sales and use taxes. But that is from the STATE’S portion of the tax. For every $1.00 of retail sales in Pullman, 0.85 cents stays in Pullman, 0.15 cents goes to Whitman County, and 6.6 cents goes to the state’s general fund. It’s simply disingenuous to imply that Pullman will lose tax money because of Wal-Mart.