Boone County lawmakers file legislation for Centralia sales tax ballot issue

Boone County lawmakers file legislation for Centralia sales tax ballot issue

CENTRALIA, Mo. - The city of Centralia is working to put a half-cent sales tax on the November ballot, but it first has to make its way through the Missouri legislature.

Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch and Sen. Caleb Rowden have both filed bills that, if passed, would allow the northern Boone County city to let voters decide on the issue.

"I never have any problem with local municipalities, local voters be given the chance to decide if they want to vote on something, so that’s really all it does is give them authority to do it," Rowden said.

Centralia must first get approval from the legislature before taking the issue to voters because of its fourth class city ranking based on its population. If approved by lawmakers, Centralia would be added to a list of other fourth class cities that can put a public safety sales tax on the ballot without approval from the state.

City Administrator Matt Harline said the sales tax revenue would be dedicated to public safety.

"That part of our budget has grown substantially," he said. "We’re hard pressed to cover some of the other expenses."

Harline said the half-cent public safety sales tax would generate about $210,000 a year for the city.

"It’s important for folks to start thinking about, not only today, but for the future with respect to our community public safety needs," Centralia police chief Larry Dudgeon said.

Dudgeon said the department is looking to update its dispatch equipment. He said the sales tax money would also help maintain police vehicles and employee salaries.

The sales tax revenue would also help with equipment improvements at the fire department. Harline said the city would look to investing in equipment that would help fight fires from up above.

"At some point, somewhere in north Boone County, it would be nice to have a piece of equipment, an aerial piece of equipment, that could get to a second story window fairly easily," he said.

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