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The Carthage Press
  • Committee approves use tax ballot measure

  • Council members were reluctant to do it and it was not a unanimous vote, but the the City's Budget Ways and Means Committee voted to recommend the city put a a use tax on the ballot for the Nov. 5 election.
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  • Council members were reluctant to do it and it was not a unanimous vote, but the the City's Budget Ways and Means Committee voted to recommend the city put a a use tax on the ballot for the Nov. 5 election.
    Council Members Ed Hardesty, John Studebaker and Jim Swatsenbarg voted yes on a motion to recommend a 2.438-cent use tax be put before voters as required by a state law that took affect this year. Council Member Larry Chapin voted against the recommendation.
    The council heard the ordinance calling for the election on first reading on Tuesday and will take a final vote on Aug. 27.
    If approved by the council, a majority vote by the people in November will impose the tax, which will affect large items, vehicles, trailers and boats, mainly, purchased out of state for use in Carthage. The rate is the same as the total local portion of the sales taxes charged in Carthage now.
    City Administrator Tom Short told the budget committee that the city lost a little more than the state predicted in revenue from the Missouri Supreme Court's decision last year that the state could not collect sales taxes for local counties and cities on purchases of vehicles and other big-ticket items purchased out of state.
    He said the city lost over $60,000 in revenue last year that would have gone into the city's general fund, the account that funds police, fire, streets and most city services.
    “Basically we're treading water,” Short said. “We're not making any advances. We can't do any new programs, we can't provide any new services. We're barely able to maintain what we're doing now and it's because of lack of funds. Inflation is eating away at any increase we've had. Inflation is running higher than the increases we've had. So if you adjust it for inflation, we've basically gone backward.
    “We get calls all the time from people with other things they would like the city to do. They say you should be able to provide this, well it takes money. And we're not like the federal government that can go down in the basement and print money.”
    Council members discussed the wording of the measure as it will appear on the ballot.
    The wording provided by the state statute says: “Shall the City of Carthage, Missouri impose a local use tax at the same rate as the total local sales tax rate, currently (2.438%), provided that if the local sales tax rate is reduced or raised by voter approval, the local use tax rate shall also be reduced or raised by the same action? A use tax return shall not be required to be filed by persons whose purchases from out-of-state vendors do not in total exceed two thousand dollars in any calendar year.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Council member Ed Hardesty said that wording is confusing and will turn voters off.
    “Everyone is going to read that first line and go 'ohh, hell no,'” Hardesty said. “They're not going to read five lines. That doesn't say it's instead of. There's nothing saying in that language right there that that is not an additional tax.”
    Short said he's have City Attorney Nate Dally look at the wording and see if it can be clarified.
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