City calls sales tax proposal "necessary"

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

KENNETT, MO (KAIT) - The financial strain of the ice storm, less money coming in, and an already strained economy is leading one Region 8 community to vote on a boost in sales tax.  City leaders say it is something that has to be accomplished to keep the city running the way it should.

"We can budget it, but if we don't have the money we can't spend it," said Kennett Mayor Roger Wheeler.

Wheeler said they've cut back on services many citizens may not notice they've been going without like street and sidewalk maintenance.  Wheeler said these cuts are saving the city thousands.

"They will continue to see cuts in services," said Wheeler.

While no staff or service members have lost their jobs many have not been replaced.  Kennett Fire Chief John Mallott said his department is being heavily impacted.

"We had five vacancies that we elected not to fill and since then we've had two more," said Mallott.

The proposal is for a 1/8th of a cent sales tax increase, something the city hasn't seen in decades.

"Over the years we haven't had a sales tax increase for general revenue purposes since 1980 that's a long time to go without a raise," said Wheeler.

Wheeler said sales tax revenue has kept up with city growth until last year when those sales plummeted.  The city sales tax was down by over $170,000.  If passed, this tax could generate about $175,000.

".125 cents on a dollar or 12.5 cents on a $100," said Wheeler.

Wheeler said passing this tax won't solve the problem, but it will buy the city some time until the economy turns around.

The issue will be on the ballot on April 6th.  If passed the tax would go into effect sometime this fall.

The following is a list provided to Region 8 News by Kennett Mayor Roger Wheeler of services or unfilled positions that have been cut in the past year to save money in the city.

No "May Day's" cleanup $40,000
No street overlay $15,000
Less sidewalk repair $1,500
Less street maintenance $6,100
Manage fuel consumption $7,000
Fire department salaries $29,500
Small equipment and building maintenance $9,200
No new radio equipment $5,000

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