PLAINS, Kan. (KSNW) — Voters in Plains, in Meade County, will be voting on a sales tax to help the local grocery store.

Grand Avenue Market opened in 2021. The city used a $500,000 federal loan to build the facility, and repayments start in a few weeks. Tuesday, voters consider adding a .5% city-wide special retailers’ sales tax to help pay off that debt. The money would go to the Community Enhancement Foundation of the Plains, a foundation that owns and operates the Grand Avenue Market.

Store co-manager Kim Wurdeman said the money from the proposed sales tax will help them keep their doors open. Plains went more than eight years without a grocery store before Grand Avenue Market opened.

“I wasn’t two weeks into it when I realized the people who need this store,” said Wurdeman, who is also a board member for the foundation.

Wurdeman says the store serves more than just the 1,500 people who live in the community.

“We typically service five other cities other than Plains. They drive anywhere from up to 20 miles to come shop at our store,” Wurdeman added.

Wurdeman said the closest major grocery store is 28 miles away in Liberal, so they work hard to have low prices, because many people who shop at the market are under financial stress.

“They’re either on WIC, or they have food stamps. There’s a lot of elderly that we service,” said Wurdeman.

The store offers specialty items not typical for a grocery store.

“We also have brought in a smoker that we’re providing hot meat, and we also have a commercial kitchen,” explained Wurdeman. “If customers come in and request products, we’re very quick to say okay and bring them in for them.”

With loan repayments starting in December, Wurdeman says the store’s current profits won’t be enough to pay it off.

“The store is doing very well financially with our current expenses, but as the loan approached, we knew we would need some help to pay off that loan,” she said.

She says the .5% sales tax would provide an estimated $5,000 a month to go toward the loan. If approved, the tax would start next year and expire in three years.

“It’s going to be the customers’ vote that allows us to move forward in the future,” she explained.

Wurdeman says if the sales tax is approved, it would still be the lowest city tax among most surrounding communities.

When voters fill out their ballot, they’ll be asked to vote either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following question:

“Shall a retailers’ sales tax in the amount of one-half of one percent (0.50%) be levied within the city limits of Plains, Kansas, with the revenue from the tax to be used for the purpose of benefiting the Community Enhancement Foundation of Plains, Kansas, a 501 (c)3 foundation service construction and equipment debt for the business said foundation owns operates, namely Grand Avenue Market in the City of Plains, Kansas; with means and methods to accomplish said purpose to be determined in the sole discretion of the governing body of the City of Plains, Kansas; such electors voting thereon, to take effect January 1, 2024, or as soon thereafter as permitted by law and notice requirements allow, and to expire three years from the date the tax is first collected?”

Special question on the ballot