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Our View: Wal-Mart tax money should stay

Our View
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Whether you hail its arrival or are planning a boycott, Wal-Mart is coming to town. While there is a pending lawsuit challenging the environmental report for the project’s site, it is all but certain that the major discounter will set up shop just outside city limits. What isn’t certain is how the impacts to the North Auburn area will be mitigated by the arrival of another big-box store. In a recent Journal report, an economic analysis estimated that the county could receive $637,554 in sales tax annually from Wal-Mart. Residents and city leaders need to keep in mind that the revenue does not go directly into the city of Auburn. Instead it enriches the county’s general fund. While there is no word yet how that revenue will be spent, much of it should go back into the North Auburn area of the county to mitigate impacts to traffic, public safety and roads. Highway 49 traffic can easily turn into gridlock during peak hours. Adding a successful and well-known retailer such as Wal-Mart will be another reason to attract more shoppers and consequently, more traffic. The highway and its connecting arteries are sure to show some wear and tear. Revenue from the store should be earmarked or set aside for road improvement projects for the area. Placer County project planner Gerry Haas said the store is paying for improvements to Bell Road and a turn signal at Highway 49 and Dry Creek Road in addition to other improvements. Annual sales tax revenue should also be applied to maintaining these and other improvements to keep a well-traveled area attractive. Along with traffic jams comes the increased likelihood of roadway collisions. And if fears that more crime will come along with the discount retailer become a reality, the need for additional public safety measures will be highlighted. More emergency responders such as firefighters may be needed in North Auburn as well as additional deputies assigned to the area. Wal-Mart’s true impact to the community remains to be seen. There are contradictory statistics that reportedly support arguments that the retailer either kills local business or helps it thrive. In the meantime, as the Auburn area community begins to accept its reality, the county should take measures to funnel money from the large store and others in the same area to go back into maintaining and improving North Auburn.