Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Helena-West Helena, Arkansas

Well, they finally did it. The citizens of the newly combined towns of Helena-West Helena, Arkansas have put themselves at the at the top of the heap in one area. They now have the highest sales tax in the state and probably one of the highest in the whole danged U.S. of A. Shoppers around here will soon be shelling out a full 10% for their purchases.

It doesn't help much that our state sales tax on groceries is supposed to be lowered from the current 6% down to 3% some time in July when the greedy city government over there is going to tack on their 2% to add 2/3rds of it right back. Did I fail to mention the 2% sales tax the county already collects which was supposedly a temporary thing back when it was desperately needed (so they said).

I might also mention that the increase in sales tax won't affect nearly half as many of the citizens as it might in other places since I suspect at least that many are purchasing their groceries tax free already. This would be due to the fact that food stamp purchases aren't taxable at all. The percentage around here (and there) who actually pay the majority of the taxes can't keep taking on the whole load and that percentage grows smaller every day when folks finally get enough of the thieving politicians around these parts and head for a better place to hang their hats.

There hasn't been a reliable audit of the finances of the combined cities in a great while due to the fact that the books are in such terrible shape that the auditors can't make sense of it all. They have the highest water bills and the poorest quality of water in the delta. Businesses have been closing their doors right and left for many years now and the likelihood of new ones coming to the area are slim and none since a great many of the available work force won't work cause it'll mess up their government checks.

In the '60s, Helena was a bustling town, and West Helena was growing by leaps and bounds. But industries gradually pulled out, and when Wal-Mart came to West Helena, it sealed the fate of the local stores, none of which were willing to change their business practices to compete with Wal-Mart. Many blame the casinos but the town was already dead before the casino went up across the river.

A stroll around the, now combined incorporated, city of Helena-West Helena, doesn't offer the sights and sounds that it once did because there aren't as many sights and sounds to be had. Walk down Cherry Street and the first thing you'd notice is all the empty and abandoned old buildings. If it weren't for the country court house being there, I reckon they could close all the doors.

Of course there are rumors and plans bouncing around to make the area as profitable as Beale Street is, in Memphis. Sure the Blues Fest held every October brings the tourist in by the droves for 3 or 4 days. And the Wild Hog Fest in April increases the population by a few thousand for a few days. I reckon this increase in sales taxes will be the final straw. I see more FOR SALE signs going up every time to go to town.


kaliblue said...

Over here where I live the sales tax is 9.25% food is 8.25%. It was suppose to be temporary oh about 6 years ago. Our property taxes just went up in Feb of this year and in July they are going to vote to raise us again this year! Ah America. The way everything keeps going up the "American Dream" of owning your own home is going to be just that. A Dream! . I tell ya.

"Early Bird" said...

I saw some of the same things happening back in Ky...I'm glad we got out when we did...

Whispering Hope said...

We don't pay sales tax on groceries unless it's prepared food like from the deli. We're at 7% now, but the way things are going that could change overnight.
But groceries are sky high; I don't know how people live (with the exception of those on food stamps, and you don't want me to get started on that!) Like Kaliblue said, our property taxes went way up this year!

I think we should just get tents, grow our own food, hustle cattle - oh wait, that wouldn't be "cool" anymore - no cell service, God forbid! :)

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