So now there's no place to wash my clothes in Fort Scott.
It's a bit of an exaggeration. But as someone who lives in an apartment complex, I have to say that the closing of Suds Yer Duds without either relocating it or opening another laundry mat is going to be rather rough for me.
I live in an apartment complex with 40 units. Those 40 units now have two washers and two dryers. And I'm sure that even if not all 40 units are occupied (only five of the eight in my building are), there's still more than 40 people who need to use those two washers and two dryers.
So if I'm in need of socks rather badly and there's a line at the two washers and the two dryers because, oh, let's say eight of the 40 people need to use them at the same time, I'm hosed.
Where exactly do I take the four or five baskets of wash I need to take care of? My friends aren't THAT generous and I don't think I want to start driving up their water and sewer bills due to my selfish need to wear clean clothes.
So then what? Drive to Pittsburg or Nevada to wash my clothes?
Okay, I'll spend my money there. And shouldn't that be a concern to the people who collect taxes here?
Let's say five people just in my complex -- the one with the two washers and two dryers -- also decide they're not going to wait a few hours to wash their clothes. So we all go to Pittsburg. If we each take six loads (and I think that might be a low estimate because there are a few families in these apartments) and spend $1.50 per load to wash and $1.00 to dry each load, 75 Fort Scott dollars will be spent in Pittsburg that day.
But wait, there's more.
Suppose three of us forget supplies; one forgets detergent, one forgets softener and one forgets dryer sheets. Let's say the average bill at the Pittsburg Wally World for those supplies is $5 each. Another 15 Fort Scott dollars just got spent in Crawford County.
Now, not everyone's gas tank will be full, so maybe a couple of us get gas before we go back. Let's say two of us get 10 gallons at $3 a gallon. Sixty more Fort Scott dollars just got spent in Crawford County.
Let's say two of us decide we'd better eat while we're down there. Maybe it's just me in my car but maybe a mother of three ends up at the Golden Arches, too. My meal and the mom's meals might come out to $4.50 each. And three Happy Meals are, what, $3.50 each? That's almost another $20 Fort Scott dollars.
Maybe someone goes by himself and figures he'd better get something to read. Two magazines in a Pittsburg store might go for about 10 to 12 bucks.
Maybe one of us decides afterward to go to the mall and gets some things at one of the stores there. More lost Fort Scott dollars.
So even without the trip to the mall, there's about $200 Fort Scott dollars spent in Crawford County just because the laundry mat closed down. This may not happen every day but it could happen some days. Let's say it happens once a week. Multiply $200 by 52 weeks and you get $10,400 spent in Crawford County in one year.
At 7.3 percent (that's Fort Scott's sales tax rate), the city and Bourbon County would lose about $750 every year just because there isn't a laundry mat here. And that's for starters, although some might see this as a worst-case scenario.
But even in a best-case scenario, do you want to see any more tax dollars leave this county than necessary? Wasn't the overwhelming NO vote in the Great Pool Election of '07 a statement of a belief that the city can't afford certain luxuries? If so, then it would seem to me that every penny counts.
But it's not just about taxes. What about my landlords?
See there's no room in the complex for more than the two washers and the two dryers. Maybe, MAYBE, they could add ONE of each. That doesn't really solve the problem.
And if there are only two washers and two dryers and another complex has, say, 10 washers and 10 dryers, which becomes more attractive to a prospective renter in a town that has no laundry mat?
Now I don't think people will move out in droves and it won't stop every prospective renter from moving in. But the two washers and two dryers didn't matter much before because there was still the option to take the laundry over to Suds Yer Duds.
Isn't convenience a factor in a lot of your every-day decisions? I'm sure some apartment hunters are going to think of this now.
Are there any washers and dryers in the dorms at the college? If there aren't, where do the students wash their clothes? Does that little thing become a factor in two or three students NOT enrolling here next year? Each student enrolled helps the college get more aid.
It didn't seem like much on the surface but when the laundry mat closed, there was a larger effect. The city has lost a HUGE customer of water and sewer services. Where will that be made up? Sure, the city doesn't have to pump that water and waste anymore, either, but taxes were included in those bills that it will no longer be able to collect.
Tax dollars can't work when they're not being collected. And, for the short term at least, a few more of mine will be working for Pittsburg and Crawford County out of necessity.