Voters in Jefferson City will be asked to renew a 35-year-old sales tax for another five years at a special election on Aug. 3.
The half-cent sales tax was first approved by voters in 1986 and took affect in 1987. It requires voter approval every five years and has been approved seven times. The tax funds the city’s capital improvements, which are generally one-time purchases, equipment and projects such as street, sewer and wastewater system improvements. City officials estimate the tax will generate about $5.6 million annually for a total of $28 million.
Cole County passed a similar tax in April, which will generate about $34.5 million over the next five years. The city and county each use about $5.5 million of their proceeds to fund $11 million of joint infrastructure projects.
The half-cent taxes are part of the 7.725 percent sales tax levied for purchases in Jefferson City.
The city council approved a non-binding resolution in May that outlined how the proceeds would likely be used. City Administrator Steve Crowell said the funds would be allocated similarly to the last cycle. The department of public works would receive about $16.5 million; the fire department would receive about $3.3 million; the police department about $2.2 million; parks and recreation about $2.8 million; and information technology about $560,000. About $2 million is earmarked for economic development and grant matching.
The resolution also addressed the joint projects with Cole County that would be prioritized. These include the High Street viaduct for $5 million; pavement, sidewalk and width improvements to Stadium Blvd. for $3 million; improvements to Monroe Street for $1 million; and economic development/grant matching for $2 million.
Absentee voting is underway and will continue in person until Aug. 2. For absentee voting by mail, July 21 is the last day to mail in the ballot.
Jefferson City voters will be asked to go to the polls again in November to consider approval of another sale tax. This time it will be an additional one-fourth cent to be used for “the improvement of public safety of the city.”
The additional tax would generate about $2.8 million annually. Uses of the funds include, but are not limited to, “expenditures on equipment, city employee salaries and benefits, and facilities for police, fire and emergency medical providers.”
The city council decided to delay until November the election for the additional tax to avoid any confusion with the renewal they are seeking in August. Conducting the additional election will cost $40,000 - $50,000.
A similar sales tax for public safety that has been levied by Cole County will be dropping from a half-cent to three-eights of a cent on March 31, 2022. Therefore, the proposed increase from the city would net to one-eighth of a cent additional sales tax from the current rate.