Now that tax vote is over, it's time to get to work

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

As one city sales proponent summed up Tuesday's election, "The work is just starting."

But as any carpenter will tell you, work is difficult or impossible if you don't have the right tools.

At least now, the McCook Economic Development Corp. and other local interests will be on a more even footing when presented with an industrial prospect for McCook.

That hasn't always been the case. McCook is a latecomer in adapting LB840 provisions, which allow money from the half-cent city sales tax to be offered to private industries under an industrial development plan.

One of the early-adopters was Gothenburg, which used its LB840 war chest to lure Baldwin Filters away from other suitors, including McCook. Other industries which have been attracted to the town of 3,700 population include Frito Lay, Land O' Lakes, Monsanto Seed Research and Hoovestol Trucking.

McCook has been no slouch in attracting industry, of course, listing Parker Hannifin's hose factory and Valmont Industry's state-of-the-art irrigation equipment manufacturing plant among its conquests.

However, while we have adequate highways, railroad and -- thanks to Sen. Ben Nelson and other legislators' support of federal subsidies -- daily air service, geography is always an issue for communities like McCook that aren't along Interstate 80.

But we do have U.S. Highway 83, and who knows, perhaps the next decades will see the northeast-southwest Snowbird Trail become a reality.

There have been struggles and failures, but the majority of businesses financed through incentives like Red Willow County's revolving loan fund have made a go of it, adding momentum to local business activity.

Those failures and struggles can provide valuable experience as more funding becomes available for larger businesses -- and larger risks.

But at least now we have the right tools in our chest.

Let's get to work.

Voters were clear that they supported the current 1 percent city sales tax for property tax relief, and wisely so. Without the money that is raised through sales tax, the burden would fall on property taxes -- which are limited by a state lid. We could almost hear a sigh of relief from city officials as that measure, Question 1, passed by a wide margin.

County Clerk Pauletta Gerver thinks Red Willow County's ballot boxes may be on their last legs. The problem is, the scanner ballots dropped into the boxes from privacy shields leave the papers in a topsy-turvy pile inside the boxes, leading to wasted time while election workers remove them, arrange them right-side up, and run them through the scanners. Gerver is hoping for a better system before the next vote.

Judging from the troubles other states like Florida and California are having with a purely electronic voting system, however, it's clear to us our combination of a trail of paper ballots, coupled with electronic scanning, is the best system to have.

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