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Now, more than ever, we must shop local first

As Governor Gregg Abbott continues to reopen Texas, it is important we remember to think of Orange first when shopping.

Orange County is full of many amazing and unique businesses and we need to do our part to help them keep their doors open.

My husband and I were looking for a new television when we discovered the limited options for places in Orange County to shop for said item. The only way to open up for more competition is to purchase more items in the area. It may not be a television but if more items for entertainment are purchased inside the county, a retailer will spot the opportunity to consider locating in the area.

Those who own the businesses are also in need of our support as they reopen the doors with new regulations and guidelines due to COVID-19. Suddenly hair stylists have an increase in expenses as they must have masks to work, more hand sanitizer, more this, more that…

For a business just hanging in there before the coronavirus, this could be the breaking point for some. It has already claimed businesses such as Southern Charm, Big Mike’s Burgers, Larry’s Barber Shop and Life’s Nutrition. These were locally owned and operated businesses that have now shut their doors forever.

While, I personally will miss Southern Charms club sandwich, I am also disappointed I will never have the opportunity to try one of the infamous hamburgers from Big Mike’s Burgers. I am interested in hearing if Big Mike’s will still cater events despite closing the doors to the restaurant.

We cannot have more businesses added to the list of fatalities due to COVID-19. Before the virus took over the headlines and rearranged our lives, we were watching Orange, the city and the county, moving forward and on the edge of greatness like we have not seen in years. It was exciting and we need to return to the optimism.

It can start with you shopping locally to help support our neighbors who in turn support or little leagues and dance studios. A dollar spent locally is a new book for a child to use to learn to read, dance shoes for a child dreaming of being a ballerina when it grows up, or sporting equipment for a child wanting to break new records.

It also helps pay for the salaries of our first responders such as the police officer first on the scene of a domestic violence call putting his/her life on the line to protect and serve the community or the firefighter running into the house fire to make sure everyone is safely removed from the burning structure.

Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, on Wednesday, sent a letter directing state agencies and institutions of higher education to each submit a plan identifying savings that will reduce respective general and general revenue related appropriations by five percent for the 2020-2021 biennium.

In the letter, the leaders also urge state agencies and institutions of higher education to pursue cost-saving strategies that will not affect the state’s response to COVID-19 such as forgoing capital expenditures that can be deferred, any avoidable travel expenditures, any administrative expenses that are not mission critical, and keeping unfilled any open positions that are not essential to Texas’ COVID-19 response.

“As Texans recover from this pandemic, it is incumbent that state government continues to maintain mission critical services without placing a greater burden on taxpayers,” reads the letter. “We are confident that Texas will get back to work and continue leading the nation in job growth, economic innovation, and business creation. However, it will take months until we know the true extent of the economic ramifications of COVID-19, and how combating this virus will impact state finances. To prepare for this economic shock, we must take action today to ensure that the state can continue providing the essential government services that Texans expect.”

To help ensure local entities can move forward without raising taxes and still have a budget to provide for the citizens, we must do our part and shop locally. Funding for government agencies comes from two places: property taxes and sales taxes.

To prevent an increase in property taxes, we must do our part by shopping locally.

Abbott, on Tuesday, also responded to a letter from members of the Texas Democratic Congressional Delegation regarding tax burdens on Texans. In his letter, the Governor voices his support of lessening the tax burden on Texans but clarifies that local governments—not the State of Texas—set the property tax rates. The Governor disagreed with the members’ support of raising taxes in times of economic prosperity.

“Property owners shouldn’t be saddled with rising property taxes while dealing with a pandemic,” said Governor Abbott. “As a result, local governments, who set property tax rates, should find ways to reduce the tax burden on Texans. Whether we’re facing times of challenge or times of prosperity—raising taxes on the people of Texas is never the answer.”

 

Dawn Burleigh is general manager and editor of The Orange Leader. She can be reached at dawn.burleigh@orangeleader.com