Eric Landwehr

Cole County Public Works Director Eric Landwehr explains how the one-half cent sales tax funds road improvements.

Voters in Cole County will be asked to continue a one-half cent sales tax the county collects to maintain roads, bridges and facilities.

The county has been collecting the tax since 1986. It appears on the ballot every five years for renewal. It was last extended in 2016 and will on ballots throughout the county during the April 6 municipal elections.

The tax is projected to generate $34.5 million over the next five years. County officials maintain a list of bridges, roads and facilities the would be given priority for improvement, as well as a proposed budget for how the funds would be allocated. It is available, along with more information on how the tax revenues are spent, at www.ImproveColeCounty.com

Since the beginning, 85% of the revenue is allocated to roads, thoroughfares, bridge improvements and stormwater projects. The other 15% is allocated to facility-related capital improvements.

During a recent event to kickoff a campaign for renewing the tax, Cole County Public Works Director Eric Landwehr pointed out that the tax is the primary, if not only, source of funding for the county’s seven incorporated communities outside Jefferson City.

“These communities don’t have a lot of money to do projects,” Landewehr said. “Working together with these communities is a big part of what we do with the sales tax.”

During the last 35 years, the sales tax has funded:

• 180 miles of gravel road upgrades to asphalt

• Six major bridge replacements

• 28 small bridges

• Five low-water bridges replacing low water crossings

• 38 box culverts

• Numerous stormwater improvement projects

• Three major throughfare improvements

• Hundreds of miles of asphalt and chip seal overlays

• Safety improvements

• 23 cooperative projects with the City of Jefferson

The City of Jefferson has its own, additional, one-half cent sales tax for infrastructure that has similarly been extended every five years since 1986. It will appear on the ballot for renewal by Jefferson City voters during the Aug. 3 election.