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County Commissioners: Use Tax Could Be a Lifesaver

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Commissioners say a “use” tax on the November ballot could be a lifesaver. Now, they have to get voters to buy in.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Commissioners say a “use” tax on the November ballot could be a lifesaver. Now, they have to get voters to buy in.

The City of Springfield succeeded in passing a use tax where the county failed. The county now says the county will be headed for a deficit if voters don’t support local government.

The proposed use tax would apply to out-of-state purchases and only after you spend a certain amount.

"If you make a purchase out of Missouri that does not have brick and mortar presence in the State, then it is the individuals responsibility making the purchase to pay the use tax once you purchase more than two thousand dollars in any one year," says Greene County Commissioner Harold Bengsch.

He says the proposal keeps the same rate; 1.25 percent.

“The use tax does not raise the sales tax rate on any purchase made in Greene County or the State of Missouri,” says Bengsch.

County Commissioner Roseann Bentley says voters passed a use tax in the City of Springfield in the mid-nineties. The county tried on the same ballot.

“And the city portion passed and the county portion failed,” says Bentley.

But, these commissioners say with a burgeoning jail population and other mounting bills, the need for this tax is growing.

“All the costs are going up and up,” says Bentley. “We just have a really great need for this tax. This recession has hit us terribly hard as it has a lot of counties. It just happened to be right on the tail end of one of the most serious ice storms we’ve ever experienced of 2007. And that really depleted our reserve fund.”

Now, the reserve fund needs to be replenished before another emergency has the opportunity to devastate the county again.

Bengsch says the $3 million raised annually by the use tax would keep the county from going into a deficit by 2017.

Several other counties like Christian, Jasper and Newton are also working to pass use taxes.

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