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March 28, 2013

Voters Asked to Renew Road and Bridge Sales Tax

Half of a penny - not a lot of money by itself. But implemented as a county-wide sales tax, that half a cent annually generates more than $200,000 for the county road and bridge department's capital projects.

Once again voters will be asked to renew the sales tax issue, which comes up for renewal every four years. The issue will be on the April 2nd ballot.

Initially passed in 1985, the sales tax has been in force since 1997, when voters revived the sales tax by a vote of 704 for and only 259 against. The issue has been reapproved by a popular vote of county residents every four years since then.

In 2012, the sales tax generated more than $210,000 for the road and bridge department.

"The sales tax is a restrictive revenue," said County Clerk Batina Dodge. "It can only be used for capital improvements, such as the purchase of equipment and bridge construction."

In last year's budget, the sales tax revenue was used to make the final payment for the county's new road grader as well as to make payments on the new excavator. The revenue also helped fund a joint effort through a community development block grant to build six new bridges, with the county paying for more than half the costs of the new structures.

"We county residents have been paying this sales tax since 1997," said County Commissioner Danette Clatt. "This is not a new tax. It has funded many of the road and bridge improvements the county has been able to make over these years."

Overall, the sales tax represents approximately 1/5 of the road and bridge department's $1 million to $1.1 million annual budget.

The 35-cent road and bridge levy and the 31-cent special levy for roads and bridges generate roughly $425,000 in property tax revenue. Missouri state fuel taxes (CART funds) and motor vehicle sales tax revenues generate an equivalent revenue stream.

The county currently levies a 1/2 cent sales tax for the general revenue fund and a 1/4 cent sales tax for law enforcement in addition to the 1/2 cent road and bridge tax. Combined they generated approximately $525,000 in tax revenue in 2012.

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