Public forum about use tax is Thursday

    The City of St. James will hold a public forum on a proposed use tax this Thursday, October 17 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the James Memorial Public Library. The tax would be a two-percent sales tax placed on online sales from stores with a physical presence in Missouri. It is estimated to generate $35,000, which will be used to fund animal control and support for the facility of the Tri-County Humane Society in addition to new police computers and equipment for the St. James Police Department.

    Throughout the evening, St. James City Administrator Jim Fleming will give guests a presentation outlining the plan for the use tax, named Proposition A on the November ballot, which would be applied to online or out of state purchases in the amount of a two percent sales tax for deliveries to addresses inside city limits. Deliveries to addresses outside of city limits would not be affected by the city’s use tax. Fleming will answer questions community members have regarding the tax and will be providing an explanation about how the tax will be used to create a better facility for the Tri-County Humane Society to operate and to provide the equipment police officers need. Cities throughout Missouri have had success in generating additional revenues through use tax implementation, with St. James wanting to be the next to do so.
    The tax has been supported by the St. James Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and would provide a way to help local businesses that are competing against online retailers.  This tax would generate money the city does not currently have access to and would allow the city to make necessary improvements to the no-kill animal shelter, which is in dire need of improvements for cleanliness and for the safety of the animals housed there.
    Funding would also be generated for the police department and earmarked for new computer and radio equipment for officers. This includes new radios for police vehicles as well as body cameras and other equipment needs the department has. Should revenues meet those needs, they could also be used for other city needs, such as sidewalks and public infrastructure as well, but only after meeting the demands of animal control and police.
County Commissioners are also planning on attending the public forum to explain their 1.125 percent use tax ballot measure they will also be running in November. Should this tax pass, it would be applied to all online or out of state purchases delivered to anyone living in Phelps County and would be added to the St. James use tax if the receiving residence was located inside the city limits. The county hopes to use the money to improve the overall operations and departments of county government.
    The city hopes to use the forum to answer questions, provide insights to the benefits of the use tax, and to give voters information they need regarding Proposition A prior to the vote. The forum is free to the public and all are encouraged to attend to learn about the issue prior to November 5.

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