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Council funds ‘buy local’ shopping program

ENCINITAS — City Council voted unanimously to fund an effort aimed at encouraging residents to shop in town. The so-called “buy local” campaign comes at a cost of $10,000.
Richard Phillips, assistant to the city manager, told the council that increasing local sales tax revenue was important because it is the second largest source of funds for the city’s day-to-day operations.
While the state gets the lion’s share of the 7.75 percent sales tax that is charged on certain goods, Phillips said the city’s portion is substantial. In fact, the city brought in $11 million in sales tax revenue during the 2007-08 fiscal year.
“The Chamber of Commerce is very excited about this,” Mike Andreen told the council. The business group represents members throughout the city.
Mayor Maggie Houlihan said she views the campaign as a partnership with the local merchant groups and chambers of commerce. “We all want to work together on this to make sure folks buy locally,” she said after the meeting.
However, it will be city funds used to build a Web site and pay for printing costs associated with the campaign according to the staff report. While the campaign logo and name — “Buy Local E” — were announced at the meeting, few other details were available.
Like many municipalities across the country, the city has seen a decline in revenue from sales tax. In fact, Phillips told the council that the latest quarterly sales tax figures were 5.1 percent lower than the same quarter in 2007.
The campaign would specifically target residents with information about the importance of shopping local. Approximately 40 percent of sales tax revenue funds public safety services, with an additional 10 percent going to city parks and recreation programs according to Phillips.
Not everyone agreed with the plan. “I get the need to keep up sales in the city,” Encinitas resident Jeff Edwards said. “But why do we have to pay $10,000 to tell people about it?” As he shopped in the Lumberyard for gifts, Edwards said he noticed less traffic than previous years. “I think a lot of people are just trying to find the lowest prices no matter where they have to go to get them,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how much money the city spends to change their minds, people are watching out for their own bottom line.”