Boone County commissioners approve use tax for November ballot

Boone County commissioners approve use tax for November ballot

BOONE COUNTY, Mo. - Boone County voters will decide on a use tax in a special election in November.

The Boone County Commission unanimously approved the ballot measure at its meeting Thursday.

"We want to make sure our businesses here in Boone County are put on a level playing field of those outside of Boone County," said Commissioner Janet Thompson.

The use tax would allow the county to collect taxes on out-of-state or out-of-country purchases that are then used in the county.

The commission's vote comes just three days after a use tax measure was also approved by the Columbia City Council.

The measure passed by a 6-1 vote at Monday night's meeting with some discussion among council members and Mayor Brian Treece.

Matt Pitzer, Ward 5 council member, was the lone vote against the use tax. Pitzer said he wanted more explanation on how the use tax would be implemented, but said Thursday he is still fully supportive of the initiative.

"I think it's really important that our local businesses be able to compete on a level playing field with all of the online retailers," he said. "I did have a few questions a little bit about the implementation and some of the process around how the use tax would be put into place."

The use tax would be the same amount as the local tax, 1.75 percent for the county and 2 percent for the city.

Columbia spokesperson Steve Sapp said the tax is expected to bring in $916,000 a year for the city, if approved. Boone County Auditor June Pitchford has projected the county would collect $1.28 million in its first year from the tax.

"So you can allocate it depending on what the needs are of your community and really bolster what may not have been funded as well as you would have liked," Thompson said. "It's something you can't necessarily count on because it is a volatile source of income, but it can help us do things we might otherwise not be able to do."

Mid-Missouri counties that have passed a use tax tell ABC 17 News it has been very beneficial.

"It allows us to do thing we wouldn't have been able to do," said Gary Jungermann, Callaway County presiding commissioner.

Callaway County voters approved the use tax in the April 2016 election. Jungermann said the 1 percent tax is projected to bring in about $400,000 in revenue.

Jungermann said the money allowed the county to hire two more sheriff deputies, add more patrol cars and begin a mid-year starting pay increase for sheriff's deputies.

In 2012, Randolph County voters also passed a 1 percent use tax. 

"It's been a very, very positive initiative," Presiding Commissioner John Truesdell said. He said the use tax brings in about $20,000-$23,000 a month for the county.

Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks said the November special election could cost up to $250,000. Both Thompson and Pitzer said the project revenues outweigh the cost of the election.

"I think it's important that the city and county move together and push forward the ballot initative at the same time," Pitzer said. "It also allows the county and city to speak with a collective voice."

The special election is set for Nov. 7.

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