River levees sales tax up for removal in August election

Because the $11 million dollars was reached early, Buchanan County residents must vote to shut the extra sales tax off.

Posted: Jul 1, 2020 4:14 PM
Updated: Jul 2, 2020 7:21 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Buchanan County residents will be voting on an unexpected item this August election.

The removal of the Missouri River's quarter-cent sales tax is up for vote. 

Passed back in 2016, residents voted to increase sales tax by a quarter of a cent to repair the Missouri River's levees damaged by severe floods. 

“The purpose of this was to repair the levees. The money has been collected, the levees are in the process of being repaired. We still have a little bit left to do, but the money’s been collected so we do anticipate they’ll probably vote to remove the tax,” said Scott Burnham, Buchanan County's Eastern District Commissioner.

Buchanan County commissioners said the federal government was willing to put in 65% of the cost of the levee project, but Missouri and Buchanan County had to come up with the remaining 35%. 

With a 77% passing vote, residents voted to pitch in nearly $11 million dollars by the end of 2020, but the desired amount was reached prematurely. 

“As soon as we hit the number, we talked to the secretary of state’s office and got it on the ballot as soon as we could. As soon as that happened, we said okay we hit that number and if there is additional money that comes in, it will stay in that levy fund,” said Lee Sawyer, Buchanan County Presiding Commissioner. 

Because the $11 million dollars was reached early, Buchanan County residents must vote to shut the extra sales tax off. 

“If a capital improvement tax is gonna be shut off before it’s sunset time, it needs to go in front of the voters,” said Sawyer. 

Come August, if voters decided to shut off the added sales tax, county commissioners said collection won't stop immediately. 

“The state of Missouri it takes them about 90 days to get that process, so we’re anticipating the tax would be eliminated probably sometime around the 1st of November,” said Burnham. 

Buchanan County Commissioners said the river levee project is two-thirds complete. The remainder of the project is anticipated to be finalized by 2022. 

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