Lincoln County Sheriff Rick Harrell explains Proposition P, a one-half of one-percent sales tax on all goods to the Lincoln County Commissioners during their weekly meeting on Jan. 23. The ordinance was passed and will go on the April 4 ballot.
Troy, Mo. Taxes have become a major part of April’s municipal ballot in Lincoln County.
Days after Troy and Moscow Mills adopted ordinances that will allow voters to cast ballots on sales taxes on recreational marijuana, the Lincoln County Commission met Jan. 23 to hammer out details on Proposition P, a one-half of one percent sales tax on all purchases in the county.
If approved at the April 4 election, Lincoln County would boast the highest standalone sales tax rate in the state at 7.975%. Only portions of Jefferson County (as high as 8.1%) and St. Louis County (as high as 9.7%) would be higher, according to the Missouri Department of Revenue.
Revenues from the county-wide tax would go toward improvements and new constructions at the Lincoln County Jail, hiring and salaries of new and existing deputies and corrections officers at the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, as well the hiring and retention of officers within the departments of Lincoln County.
Lincoln County Sheriff Rick Harrell told the County Commissioners he and his staff have done everything possible to house prisoners at the jail under its current configurations.
“We have a jail that was built to hold 112 inmates. We have 221 now,” Harrell said. “There’s no more space to hold any more.
“We’re now at maximum capacity, because we’re a growing county.”
Troy Police Chief Jeff Taylor said his department has lost officers to other departments due to salaries. If passed, the revenues from Proposition “P” would also help further compensate the municipal departments of Lincoln County.
“It’s happening in multiple counties,” he said. “It’s hard getting officers to apply. Ultimately, it’s better for the citizens.
“We’re getting more calls, especially violent gun calls. We need to be prepared as much as we can.”
Harrell said, not only will the tax provide a “living wage” for employees, it will generate around $4 million for the county per year, and said in meetings with the police chiefs that passage was important.
However, there were concerns voiced about the tax during the commissioners’ meeting. Silex Mayor Stuart Gambrill, who was in attendance, had his own questions about the ordinance and how it would affect the citizens of his city, which has had its own financial difficulties over the years.
“Silex is one of the poorest areas in the county, so what would another half-percent tax rate be for the citizens of my city?” Gambrill said. “If it’s going to give the citizens of Silex more coverage, then they’re all for it. If it’s just for salaries, then they’re not going to see the justification of this, because they’re not going to see the benefits like a city like Troy will.”
District 2 Associate Commissioner Matt Bass expressed his reservations about the tax, but agreed law enforcement needed the help.
“As much as I don’t want sales taxes to go up, I think it is a need for the departments,” he said.
The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the ordinance.
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