November 23, 2011 - My publisher, Jim Sherman, Jr., found something on the Oxford Community Schools website that bothered him.
Frankly, it bothered me, too.
There was a section encouraging folks to shop on-line at Amazon.com and BestBuy.com, so the district can receive some extra funding.
"At no charge to you, anything you purchase through this link will contribute up to 6 percent of the purchase price to Oxford Schools," according to the district website.
That's all well and good for the school district. It's easy money for them.
But what about our local businesses that continue to struggle in these tough economic times?
How does this help our merchants as they look forward to a hopefully profitable holiday shopping season?
How will this help them go from simply surviving to finally prospering?
Call me crazy, but I don't believe the schools should be promoting shopping anywhere but right here in good old Oxford, where local businesses year after year pay the district's operating tax, help pay off the school bond debt and keep local folks gainfully employed, so they can live here and send their kids to school here.
There's no Best Buy located in this town, so shopping there isn't helping an Oxford business that pays Oxford taxes and employs Oxford people.
As for Amazon.com, they don't have any brick-and-mortar stores anywhere. The whole thing is an internet business, so they don't pay any local property taxes except maybe to Seattle, Washington, where the company is headquartered.
I realize that many of the types of items sold by Best Buy and Amazon.com can't be found in Oxford stores, but to me, it's the principle of the thing. I know principles don't mean much anymore, but I still care about them.
Local governments that collect local taxes should only promote shopping at local businesses, period.
It's bad enough our local businesses must compete with shopping malls, big box stores and the inherently lazy concept of on-line shopping. Do the schools have to pile on by giving outside competition free advertising?
We constantly hear the Oxford Chamber of Commerce and Oxford Downtown Development Authority encouraging us to shop in our hometown, especially during the holiday season when our local merchants need us most.
So, why is the school district promoting on-line shopping for out-of-town corporations?
Sure, the schools will get 6 percent of every purchase, but that's shortsighted when one considers all the money our local businesses contribute annually in the form of property taxes and generous donations to everything from sports teams to school clubs to PTO fund-raisers?
For instance, when all is said and done, between the July and December 2011 tax bills, Funky Monkey Toys (5 N. Washington St.) will pay $2,126 in local school operating taxes, plus another $846 to help pay off the district's bond debt. And that does not even include the 6-mill State Education Tax.
To me, $3,000 from Funky Monkey is a hell of a lot more valuable to the community than 6 percent from some outside corporate giant that probably doesn't even know where Oxford is. Think locally, act locally, buy locally.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.