County voters to decide use tax proposal
Pike County Eastern Commissioner Curt Mitchell, left, listens to Mike Sutherland, representing the Missouri Association of Counties, explain the nuances of the proposed use tax at a public forum held Thursday, March 14.
Pike County voters will be asked to approve a use tax when they go to the polls on Tuesday, April 2.
The county sales tax on out-of-state purchases was suspended last year when a Missouri Supreme Court Judge found it to be unconstitutional.
The use tax would reinstate that revenue.
That will bring back about $50,000 per year in revenue used for road and bridge projects, according to Presiding County Commissioner Danny Miller.
For this year’s county budget, “We had to cut services for hard-surface roads because we lost that revenue,” Miller said.
The lost revenue removed the possibility of asphalt overlays for some roads that can now only be sealed and chipped, he added.
The state’s portion of the use tax still exists, according to Mike Sutherland a lobbyist for the Missouri Association of Counties who was in Bowling Green to explain the situation last week in a public forum held in the courthouse.
The former Warren County Assessor and Bowling Green Times reporter also spent eight years in the Missouri legislature working on tax issues.
“The use tax applies to those things purchased outside of Missouri that come back into the state and are used here,” Sutherland said.
The tax is applied to large items like cars, trucks and boats, Sutherland said.
“It brings tax revenue back into Missouri if you buy a new car in Illinois,” Sutherland said.
Sutherland and the county commissioners noted that the absence of a county use tax also gives a competitive advantage to vehicle dealerships right over the Missouri state line.
Although Missouri vehicle purchasers pay Illinois sales tax when they buy there, they no longer have to pay their county sales tax when they register the vehicle.
The use tax would be paid at the exact same rate as the former sales tax, with no extra percentage, Sutherland said.
“It would go back to basically what it was,” Miller said. “You won’t be paying more tax than before.”
The use tax would also apply to things like pipeline that is bought outside of the state and used in Missouri, according to Miller.
When a major pipeline came through northeast Missouri several years ago, Ralls County had a use tax in effect that brought in $178,000, Miller said.
The project came through a much longer portion of Pike County, which lost the possible revenue.