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Is Amazon Eating Our Road Budgets?

How the demise of brick & mortar retailers is shrinking municipalities equipment and repair budgets

May 10, 2017

Judith Crown of the Better Government Association, a watchdog group in Illinois, raises an interesting issue in her latest article. As online retailers continue to expand and take market share away from the traditional local big box and independent retailers, sales tax revenue that funds public works budgets for equipment, repairs and city workers drops.

When a store eventually closes because it can't compete with the online market, not only do the sales taxes evaporate, but the property taxes on the now vacant building drop because empty buildings are assessed at a lower rate. Crown cites the example of a suburban Macy's closing that caused a $65,000 hole in that suburb's pocketbook.

Crown's story highlights the issue as it affects Illinois but her article's point is a valid concern for municipalities nationwide who rely on local sales taxes to fund public services, like road repairs, water & sewer, etc.

According to one of Crown's expert sources, the big box stores aren't coming back to rescue local economies. Finding a new revenue model to pay for public construction maintenance and services is vital. Read Crown's story Why the Online Threat to Big Retail Means Holes in Illinois Budgets here.

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