Growing the retail base and creating jobs is the winning strategy for Philadelphia, not a tax hike.

Full-service dining and grocery sales were identified three years ago as two sectors that are among those leaking a net $28 million dollars to places outside of Neshoba County.

The Philadelphia Mayor and Board of Aldermen would do well to dust off the study conducted for Philadelphia Main Street and formulate a better economic development strategy than raising taxes.

Some of the gaps like groceries are huge. If Neshoba countians were doing their grocery shopping locally instead of out of town, the city of Philadelphia could see an additional $500,000 annually in sales tax returns.

What's being done to expand or recruit grocery stores to stem the outflow?

Reversing the $28 million net trade area leakage would translate into roughly
$352,000 for the city.

So, that's why a new grocery store or car dealership or any kind of retail store will be very good for Philadelphia.

More importantly, though, jobs creation will lead to the demand for more retail services and that's why the announcement last week that about 20 manufacturing jobs are coming to Union is significant.

The previous mayor and board got the liquor referendum passed and that's supposed to lead to more chain restaurants and will open a whole new wine and liquor retail sector.

Mississippi cities are pretty much run on sales tax returns, receiving 18.5 percent of the 7 percent collected by the state.

Based on the March 2010 Main Street study, liquor stores alone could put an estimated $42,000 into the city treasury just from sales tax returns. The liquor store owners will pay ad valorem taxes and employ people as well.

With the city placing a tax hike on the table for 2014, some serious questions need to be asked first about where tax dollars are going, if there are ways to be more efficient or if certain expenses can be trimmed or eliminated.

Before a tax hike, officials ought to seriously consider consolidation of services.

Consider that of the $2,000 in taxes collected on a $103,000 home in Philadelphia in 2012 without homestead exemption, 46% of that, or $962.49, goes to the city schools.

City Hall receives $155.24 of the $2,000 and Neshoba County $912.81.

Aldermen have discussed a tax hike that could double that $155.24. The city's portion of car tags would double as well.

Such a tax hike would have a negative impact on commercial property owners and fleet vehicle owners like Yates.

What kind of message does a tax hike send to existing industry or prospects?

The winning strategy for Philadelphia is to grow the retail base, reverse the sales leakage and create jobs, not raise taxes.