Missourians To Vote On Whether To Renew Tax For State Parks, Soil Conservation

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POLK COUNTY, Mo. – In November, Missouri voters will decide on whether to renew a major funding source for state parks and soil conservation efforts in the state.

Constitutional Amendment One will ask voters if they want to renew the parks, soils and water sales tax of one-tenth-of-one percent.
    
Missouri voters first approved this tax in 1984, and about half the revenue goes to the parks and the other half goes to soil and water conservation efforts.

Playing with dirt has never hurt Vicky Fieth.

It has been her job as director of the Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District for more than three decades.

“Anybody who walks through the door, I want to try to help them one way or the other, but I’m sure going to try to find the answer for them,” Fieth said.

In the largest cattle producing county in Missouri, Fieth primarily helps ranchers.

Her office offers a grazing school, and spends up to $200,000 of parks, soils and water sales tax money each year on projects to avert erosion on grazing lands.

“They [ranchers] see their neighbor and he’s putting in some fences, [and they] wonder what that’s all about,” Fieth said. “And his cattle are looking good. And that brings them in.”

The tax does not cover the entire cost of these projects; the landowner has to split it with the state.

However, Fieth finds farmers are willing to pay for her office’s expertise.

“They want to learn how to manage their land, they want to learn how to make a better living off their land, and they want to learn how to make a better product to sell,” Fieth said.

Agriculture — Missouri’s biggest industry — supports more than 300,000 jobs.

“[Without the tax] we’d be one of the poorest states in the nation,” Fieth said. “We would lose our farmers; we would lose our cropping land.”

So for a penny on a $20 purchase, Fieth hopes Missourians do not let this tax erode.

Missourians will see the park, soils and water sales tax as Amendment One on their November ballot. The tax brings in about $90 million annually and voters have renewed it three times since 1984.
 

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