Carthage joined Joplin, Carl Junction, Jasper County and the Jasper County Emergency Services Board to put a use tax on the ballot for a Nov. 5 election.
The Carthage City Council voted 7-3, with council members Larry Chapin, Don McLaughlin and Kirby Newport voting no, to put the measure before voters in an election that was mandated by a new state law to take place sometime in the next two years.
Chapin told the council he couldn't vote for the measure because he felt it was “thrust upon us in an expedited fashion without a review of information up front,” and he didn't feel there was any way to show the voters how the tax will directly benefit the city.
“I feel we have no way to show the public a direct correlation between the revenue collected and services provided,” Chapin said. “I believe it will make it difficult to appeal to the public for any tax issues in the future. I do not feel we have a full understanding of the entire scope of the use tax, and that although we do not stand to gain any additional revenue at this present juncture, it may put us in a better position to utilize the use tax with regard to acquiring a greater stream of revenue in the future, one example would be the internet sales tax.”
Voters in Carthage will see two use tax issues, one from the city and one from the county.
The use tax would affect larger purchases, such as vehicles, trailers and boats, purchased outside Missouri for use in Carthage or Jasper County.
Carthage Chamber of Commerce President Mark Elliff, speaking before the council voted to place the issue on the ballot, said the Chamber's board of directors had voted to support the use tax proposal.
“This really is not a new tax at all, it is just an extension, allowing us to continue to receive what we already have been receiving,” Elliff said. “It just solidifies that if it is passed by the voters. If you can have a friendly tax, this would be considered a friendly tax, a business-friendly tax. It actually would help support local businesses.”
He said the use tax would even the playing field for Missouri businesses, especially car dealerships, because Missouri residents could no longer save a few hundred dollars in local sales taxes by buying from car dealers in Kansas or other states.
In other business, the council voted to set the city property tax rate. The new rate is the same as last year's rate, 75.34 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, because the city's property valuation was only a little more than one percent higher this year compared to last year.
Page 2 of 2 - The city also heard on first reading a proposal to refinance loans taken out in 2005 for the construction of the new Carthage Public Library.
The city's financial advisor said refinancing the loans could save the city as much as $131,000.