Investing In Our Town Is Essential If We Want To Remain Viable
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Oxford is getting a splash-pad. I have mixed emotions about this. On the one hand I am very happy for Oxford. All the children of the world, even Oxford kids who already have everything they could ever possibly want in their town, deserve a splash-pad. On the other hand, I wish this new splash-pad was located in Water Valley due to our kids deserving it more than Oxford kids since our kids are cuter. And our kids need cooling off more due to being located 25 miles further south. If Oxford kids get hot they can go to one of their three fancy swimming pools or 35 bougie frozen yogurt shops.
But this column isn’t about a splash-pad. I’m really just openly exploring how we, as a town, can generate revenue to implement not just big-town dreams for our parks like a splash-pad, but even small town dreams for our parks like upkeep and landscaping.
What would be ideal is if we could show this pride, commitment and devotion to our town while simultaneously not raising property taxes and getting other people to help pay for it. All this, while keeping our monetary contribution voluntary and low enough as to be essentially unnoticeable.
The proposed tourism tax is two percent. That’s two cents on the dollar the customer pays toward our town with food purchases at restaurants. Using my two decades of waitress math skills I can tell you that if you went out to, say, El Charrito and spent $400, then under the two percent Tourism Tax you would contribute $8 extra dollars toward the beautification and upkeep of our city.
If you are an El Charrito high roller like this then you’ll clearly need to use the park the very next day to burn off $400 worth of El Charrito calories! So, you’ve got an immediate return on your voluntary investment (keeping in mind that if you didn’t want to pay a two percent Tourism Tax that day then you’d just cook P5 at home like a stingy miser.) I also think one in the position to spend $400 on a meal would be perfectly willing to occasionally pay it forward toward the town that hosts such a place of decadent opportunity.
But how the scenario breaks down in actual, everyday life is much more like this: I was in Subway a few days ago and the kid in front of me was short a dollar. She wanted a Sprite with her six-inch sub but didn’t have quite enough. I handed her a buck. She got the Sprite. I’ve seen people do this in PigSaver more times than I can count. It’s the neighborly thing to do. It’s common here. Water Vallians hand each other change at the registers all the time.
With that same dollar that I handed the child, I could’ve paid my two percent Tourism Tax on my own six-inch Turkey sub 11 times over. Meaning, I could’ve gone to Subway and bought that sandwich 11 and a half separate times and it would’ve eventually equaled the dollar that I so casually handed a child who wanted a Sprite to cool off. A mini splash-pad in a cup.
This won’t be the last I write on this because as an avid park-user and a former career restaurant employee I can see a few angles here. But the main angle I see is that investing in our town is essential if we want to remain viable. And we want to remain viable, right? Even further, I challenge us to not simply remain viable but to thrive!