STORY UPDATED WITH COMMENTS FROM LUTHER MAYOR JENNI WHITE.
The US Supreme Court this week cleared the way for local taxes to be collected on internet sales. Although online retailers like Amazon have been charging local sales tax for several months, the high court’s decision will force other virtual sellers to do the same.
For Luther, it means more “use tax” money in the Town’s coffers. It’s a number that fluctuates from month to month. For example, in May, the Oklahoma Tax Commission reported that Luther would get $10,588 in use taxes, but the next month, June 2018, the deposit was only $2,284 and in April it was $3,858.
The Town also collects sales taxes every month on purchases made within Luther Town limits, at restaurants, retailers, and other businesses. The rate is 3.5 cents for every dollar on top of the four cents the state gets. The 7.5% Luther tax rate is among the lowest in our part of Oklahoma County and brings the Town somewhere around $30,000 a month. Sometimes more and sometimes less. The Luther Town budget for 2018-19 anticipates collecting almost $485,000 in tax revenue. What is the money spent on? Maintenence, personnel, public safety, and Luther Mayor Jenni White says money should also go for infrastructure repairs.
“It’s important to remember – towns do not have jobs – they can’t go out and work for a living. The only thing that keeps ANY town afloat is its ability to attract businesses from which to collect sales taxes. Yes, besides traffic tickets – which certainly aren’t the most citizen-friendly source of income (!) – that’s ALL any town has for day-to-day operating capital – sales tax,” said Mayor White on her public Facebook page in response to this article.
“I personally don’t like the idea of raising our sales tax rate for many reasons, but – as anyone in town can tell you – Luther’s long-neglected water infrastructure MUST be fixed. Since there are no water infrastructure-fixing trolls under the Deep Fork bridge waiting to sneak out and fix our problems in the dead of night, the Town is going to have to cough up the cash to get it done somehow.
Sadly, this isn’t a five minute two thousand dollar fix, it’s a painstaking, many months long process that will cost upwards of $250,000 to fix. The Town needs a new water tower and beyond that, nearly every inch of pipe in town must be replaced, as well as junctions, shut-offs and mains.
This year, unlike any year in recent history, the Town Board scrimped and saved and opened a rainy day fund into which we deposited $100,000 before the close of this fiscal year. This is a FABULOUS start, but we can’t turn around and withdraw it to use for water infrastructure, it needs to stay where it is in the event of a real emergency.
What we REALLY need is to locate more businesses within our borders and to market ourselves so well that we attract both people living INSIDE and OUTSIDE the Town to shop #LutherLocal,” said Mayor White.