One of our earlier posts, http://grandrapidsvoice.com/2013/12/07/dont-kill-the-messenger-2/, was so popular that I am going to expand the scope of the comparison of Grand Rapids and Bemidji.
The pictures here, in a way, are there own comparisons of the two cities. On the one hand, Paul Bunyan’s empty chair in Grand Rapids, on the other hand, the busy lighted skyline of a Bemidji night.
Below is the 2011 fiscal comparison between the two as found on the State Auditor’s website, http://www.osa.state.mn.us/Search/CitySearch.aspx.
In the top section of the chart we find that the total taxes are similar, but only because Bemidji derives revenue from a sales tax. The property tax in Grand Rapids is much higher than Bemidji, being $273.31 more per person. The other significant difference in this section is the fact that Grand Rapids borrowed $1,655,000 while Bemidji borrowed nothing.
Looking at the last section of the comparison chart, we find that capital outlays for Grand Rapids were more than double those for Bemidji. This is the principle reason that Grand Rapids spent $2128.21 per person, ranked 10th in the state, while Bemidji only spent $1246.66 per person.
Were you aware that in 2011 Grand Rapids spent 70.7% more per person than Bemidji? Is this part of the reason that business growth in Grand Rapids has seemingly stagnated in the last several years while Bemidji has a much healthier economy? Can this also have contributed to the fact that unemployment in Grand Rapids is 11.8% higher than unemployment in Bemidji? (Unemployment statistics derived from search comparison found at http://www.homefacts.com/unemployment/Minnesota/Winona-County/Minnesota-City.html)
Does the fact that property taxes are 61.4% higher in Grand Rapids cause the overhead for businesses to be so much higher that potential new businesses choose to locate somewhere other than Grand Rapids where they can find a lower tax rate? Could it be that the tax and spend policies of the city are the real culprit behind our local economic troubles? Just look to the number of people who choose to live in areas outside of Grand rapids, such as Coleraine, due to the fact that it is cheaper to commute from outside the city limits than to pay the taxes charged for living inside the city. We can also look to the number of empty businesses in Grand Rapids for possible evidence that the cost of doing business there is prohibitive.
Perhaps that is the reason that Paul Bunyan’s chair is empty. Is it cheaper for Paul to stand in Bemidji than to sit in Grand Rapids?