To the Editor:

I had to promise myself to keep this short and to the point, because I have much more to say on the subject of tourism and what it means to Ste. Genevieve.

It is our town’s beating heart.

And for a city official not to acknowledge that fact, or know how to measure what tourism is to Ste. Genevieve is simply due to lack of effort or understanding — except in the many cases, and I say this because of the many knowledgeable men and women, many of whom I consider friends, who are not able to express an opinion because they are business people.

The fact that I refer to tourism as our beating heart shouldn’t be confused with the appreciation of all the other industries and businesses that make Ste. Genevieve the desirable place I chose to live.

I’d like to think of tourism as a “natural blessing,” much like the lime deposits here.

And to identify how much tourism means to our revenue stream, one has to look no further than 1993, the year of the Great Flood and no tourism. 1993 generated $449,019 in tax revenue. 1994, the year after the flood and the city not fully recovered, generated $481,391 — a difference of $32,000.

The tax rate was 7.225 percent.

At that tax rate, $72.25 was generated for every $1,000 of taxable sales. Which means tourism equates to about $448,000 in taxable sales.

I realize this is an oversimplification, but based on our population remaining pretty constant over the years, I think it reflects quite a bit.

Having been an alderman of Ward 1, the downtown and the north side of Ste. Genevieve, I have been impressed by the many downtown businesses and their owners’ work and perseverance.

Having been a store owner myself, I think I relate to what they must have considered as options.

Finally, keep in mind in 2002, the largest ever block of historic houses was added to the National Historic Register at one time — this alone should be an indication of how much history (therefore, tourism) is intertwined.

Jerry Klein,

Ste. Genevieve