Editorial

Jackson an example of financial stability

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Anyone who has been paying attention knows what a disaster the Missouri budget is. The legislature continues to look for $350 million to meet current budget, and lawmakers face a projected $1 billion gap between Gov. Bob Holden's spending requests and anticipated revenue for the next year that begins July 1.

In Cape Girardeau, sales-tax revenue has not come at expected levels, and city voters are facing four tax/fee proposals to increase funds for operations and special projects.

In Scott City, city officials recently asked for a sales-tax increase to repair city buildings that leak and for a new filtration system for the municipal swimming pool.

What about Jackson? Surely, along with everyone else, they are feeling the pinch in these sluggish economic times.

Not so.

Not so much as a whimper.

In fact, Jackson is thriving. Sales-tax revenue grew by 4.2 percent in 2002. The city brought in $1.75 million from its 1 percent general sales tax and another $850,000 from its half-percent transportation sales tax.

The total sales-tax revenue increased to $2.6 million last year from $1.7 million in 1997. That's $600,000 above the rate of inflation.

In a word: Wow!

But it's no anomaly. Jackson is doing well because of its leadership, fiscal planning and a commitment to making it easy and profitable to do business in one of the state's fastest growing communities.

In many places around the nation, retail sales are still struggling. But in Jackson, there appears to be plenty of consumer confidence.

City administrator Jim Roach points to the city's efforts to make it easy for developers and builders to do business. Unlike other communities, Jackson makes an effort not to overburden developers with new regulations, instead relying on existing regulations that meet the city's needs.

Jackson officials also have made changes in subdivision codes to offer builders more flexibility. That lowers some construction costs and spurs more building. More building means more people and more jobs. A growing city -- and no one can deny Jackson is growing -- is a healthy city.

This isn't difficult to figure out: All of these factors are good for the economy. Retail sales are driven by increasing the number of consumers and their incomes, and Jackson seems to be doing well with both.

Jackson's leadership has also been smart about living within the city's means. Jackson can boast that it hasn't had to raise its sales-tax rate.

Jackson also has a good image. Jackson has low crime rates, good schools and a booming business climate. All help create a healthy environment no matter what's going on elsewhere.

In this fiscally tough time when government at all levels is scratching its head to figure out how to do things, Jackson has set a good example.

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