It really was a shame to lose the Carnegie as an arts center, although there are already other options that people are considering to replace some of the functions.
It is also a shame that so many historic buildings in Leavenworth are basically threatened by a lack of funds. The lack of funds also retards the development of good sidewalks, walking trails, road repairs, etc. in Leavenworth.
What is missing is an adequate sales tax base to fund everything that we need to do and especially those things that we would like to do. My recommendation is to enact a sales tax on those things and services sold on Fort Leavenworth that are already covered in the city. I say that with full disclosure that I am a retired military person.
For example, any person, military or not, eats tax-free at the PX. That’s a nice savings if you eat at the PX, but it encourages people to eat on-post and not at a similar restaurant off-post. In reality, the savings per individual is tiny and I doubt that anyone chooses where they are going to eat based on whether they will pay sales tax, but the accumulative effect on the city is significant.
Unlike some people, I have little problem with the existence of either the PX or the Commissary or even the Class VI store (liquor store) on the fort, but the fact that no sales taxes are collected which would support so many things in the city is a bit troubling, especially in these hard times.
To be sure, there have been many who have looked at the very existence of all of those facilities and who ask why we still have them on military reservations in the United States when there are adequate services in the local communities.
Or, some suggest that like so many other functions in the military, like housing and utilities for example, why these functions have not been privatized. I don’t go that far. These functions do provide income for the military operations that support the local reservation. On the other hand, other than the slight increase in cost to each individual, which they already pay when they go off-post to shop at the Legends or Zona Rosa, for example, the service would still earn benefits for the reservation while also providing a seriously needed income boost to the local economy.
I don’t know how the rules work, but I suspect that it would take an act of Congress to enable the City Of Leavenworth to collect sales taxes from goods and services sold on the fort. This is a great opportunity for those running for elected office to really show how they would eliminate the government from our daily lives by privatizing those services on military reservations across the United States.
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I do not agree that it was a good idea to privatize housing and utilities, but if we were able to do something so drastic as to change the way we treat military families and how they live, then it should be very easy and non-controversial to merely charge a sales tax on military reservations.
It is really unfair to the local communities like Leavenworth to not be able to benefit from sales tax collected on the fort. Actually, when you include the other military reservations in the state, it is also unfair to the rest of the state to not benefit from the collection of sales tax.
We seem pretty well bent on eliminating income tax in Kansas, so that means that sales taxes are going to be even more important for supporting our local cities, unless they raise property taxes. I would prefer that we simply start getting the sales tax from Fort Leavenworth. It would be preferable to raising property taxes or local sales taxes just to fix old buildings, repair sidewalks and build safe running trails.
Contact your local Congress person and suggest that they take action on this so that cities that are near military reservations get the tax benefits they sorely need.
Matt Nowak lives in Lansing and works as a natural resources manager.