By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Daily Leader
The City of Liberal will be voting on whether or not to renew the 1-cent sales tax on Nov. 2. In order to further explain how approximately one-third of the funds will be provided to the city by taxpayers not living in Liberal, Economic Development Director Jeff Parsons explained Liberal’s pull factor.
Pull factor is a number that determines how much a city is bringing individuals outside of their limits for retail purposes.
“How the state figures pull factor is they take the entire sales tax collected in the State of Kansas and they divide that by the population and what that gets you is a per capita sales tax,” he said. “So then when you go backing it down toward cities, you say, ‘Well, if we have whatever our population is, we should collect that much money and that should be equal.’”
In order to accurately determine a city’s pull factor, Parsons said, those living in the city who are travelling outside of the city for retail purposes must be taken into consideration.
“You always have leakage, you have people going to Wichita, Garden City or wherever so you you will always be collecting from the people in your town, less than the per capita average of the state because they are always going to go somewhere else.”
A pull factor of 1.0, Parsons explained, would be a perfect balance of people coming into a specific city to shop and those going outside for retail needs.
“If you have a pull factor of 1.0, it means that the dollars that are going out are equaled by and equal number of dollars coming in,” he said. “So, that is where you get a 1.0.”
In order to prove that approximately one-third of the one-cent sales tax that has been collected from individuals living outside of Liberal, Parsons gave the most recent statistics for Liberal’s pull factor.
“In 2009, and those are the most recent figures we have, our pull factor was 1.24,” he said. “So, we have way more than that coming in. If you are at 1.0, you are in balance. There are a lot of towns in the state that the state average is 1.0, obviously. The biggest ones are suburban Kansas City, Leawood, Olathe because not only do they have people from Kansas come in, they have people from Missouri as well. Overland Park’s pull factor is about 1.6. Liberal is about 11th or 12th in the state.”
Traditionally, Parsons said, Liberal’s pull factor has been high due to those coming into town from the surrounding area to do their shopping. It also means a large number of residents in Liberal stay home to shop, and while some may occaisionally shop elsewhere, Liberal makes up the difference and then some.
“We have all of the Oklahoma Panhandle,” he said. “You have that northern tier of the Texas Panhandle, plus you have all of your farm folks. We actually draw from Colorado as well. Our secondary trade area probably goes as far north as Sublette, we will split that population with Garden City. Then it goes east actually quite a ways. It probably goes to Meade.”
With a pull factor of 1.24, and knowing that some people shop out of town on occasion, Liberal can extrapolate that about a third of the sales tax collections come from outside Liberal.
For the 1-cent sales tax, that means about a third of it has been provided from those who live outside of Liberal and an estimated $12 million will be raised during the next 10 years from shoppers outside of Liberal.
Without the 1-cent sales tax, that $12 million would not be available to enhance Liberal.
The vote to renew the 1-cent sales tax takes place Tuesday at the Seward County Activity Center. Advance voting has already begun at the Seward County Administration Building.