Taney County asking voters to approve sales tax increase to fund law enforcement

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TANEY COUNTY, Mo. — Taney County is once again asking voters to consider raising the sales tax to help fund law enforcement.

Leading up to April’s municipal election, the county plans to hold five town halls.

What’s being proposed is a sales tax of 3/8 of 1%.

It would replace the current 1/8 of 1% tax.

Voters have mixed reactions to this.

Becky Alley is new to Taney County, but that doesn’t change how she feels about this proposal.

“Opposed,” Alley said. “Seems like we are already paying a tremendous amount of taxes already.”

Ladonna Kelley has lived in the area for seven years.

“I just have the deepest respect for law enforcement officers and what they do because their life’s in danger at all times and what they have to go through and it’s just a small amount of money,” Kelley said. “I’m going to talk to some of my friends to tell them that I think it’s the right thing to do.”

A decision Taney County Sheriff Jimmie Russell says would help more than you might think.

“It would allow us to possibly increase the pay of what our officers make,” Russell said. “It will allow us to put more officers out on the street, which would reduce the response times to our crimes.”

Right now, officers have an average response time of 33 minutes.

“We needed to reduce that,” Russell said. “It would help us to be able to have the officers available to do that.”

The increased sales tax would also impact the county jail.

“Our jail has been overcapacity,” Russell said. “We built it on a 10-year plan. We’re in our 12th year now. In our 10th year we actually started going overcapacity. We’re looking for, in the future, possibly having to add another housing unit on. With that, then that’s an increase in the number of people we have to have.”

As the current jail gets older, Russell said there is an increase in the amount of maintenance that has to be done, therefore increasing costs, which isn’t ideal for the Sheriff Department’s budget.

“Every budget year we’re budgeting a million dollars deficit,” Russell said. “So, we’ve got to correct that.”

The county plans to hold three more town halls until the municipal election.

Voters have until April 7 to make their decision.

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