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County Capital Improvement Tax up for renewal vote on November ballot

Buchanan County residents will decide the fate of the renewal of a County Sales Tax that will be on the ballot come the November elections.

Posted: Oct 27, 2019 3:27 PM

(BUCHANAN COUNTY, Mo.) Buchanan County residents will decide the fate of the renewal of a County Sales Tax that will be on the ballot come the November elections.

Brad Lau, vice president of economic development at the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, said the sales tax is allocated towards capital improvements projects and has been in place for several years.

"The tax is already in place, they're just asking that it be renewed," Lau said. "I think actually that the tax has been in place for probably over 20 years."

Buchanan County Commissioner Scott Burnham said it's a quarter of a cent sales tax that generates between $3.4 and $3.5 million dollars a year. In past years, the county allocated at least a million of that money towards economic development.

"We will use those dollars to incentivize businesses to create jobs, to entice companies to come here," Burnham said.

A few of the companies that both men mentioned who received a cut from the capital improvement sales tax to locate their business in St. Joe are Shutz Containers, Yellow Frog Graphics and Daily's Premium Meats. 

"The bottom line is that national companies have facilities all over the country," Lau said. "So, when we have a local plant that's competing for capital investment it's just like trying to attract a new company to St. Joseph, and we've been able to use the CIP tax for economic development."

Some of the funds have also been generated towards road and infrastructure improvements, such as Illinois Avenue in front of the Livestock Exchange Building and the Ag Expo Way off U.S. Highway 36.

"That's really what the government's role is, is to provide good infrastructure," Burnham said.

Lau added that infrastructure also has a hand in whether or not companies decide to locate their business in the area. 

"Companies don't wake up and say, 'hey I need to be in St. Joseph, Missouri,'" Lau said. "It comes down to a factor of, do you have the infrastructure in place so that they can very quickly build that facility?"

Other past projects the sales tax has helped fund include renovation work on the Buchanan County Courthouse, including updating the building's HVAC system.

"[It] was well over a million dollars we had to put towards it [HVAC system] - in updating it," Burnham said. "It hadn't been updated in over 30 years."

The county said, just like the Capital Improvement tax that is expiring, the tax up for renewal on the ballot has an eight-year sunset.

The election will be on Tuesday, November 5th.

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