Columbia voters will cast ballots in April on a local use tax measure. If approved by voters, the local use tax would be enacted on purchases from vendors outside city limits.
Columbia finance director Matthew Lue tells reporters that a use tax would generate $5.6 million annually in additional revenue.
“Even though we’ve seen inflation and an increase in revenue, we’ve seen almost double that in expenses that we’ve paid with the price of metal, price of copper. And so, it’s very much vital to helping us keep the status quo,” Lue says.
Use tax supporters say internet-based vendors have a competitive advantage over Columbia vendors because they don’t have to charge the local sales tax. Mr. Lue says Columbia could fund and maintain seven new firefighters and eight new police officers with the use tax revenue.
Columbia voters will be casting ballots in April on two local use tax questions: one for the city and one for Boone County. 939 the Eagle asked Mr. Lue if he’s worried that voters will be confused.
“That is a concern, but I think as long as we get the word out there that you have to vote twice that people will understand,” says Lue.
Lue says Columbia Proposition 1 supporters have been speaking to various clubs getting the message out that they’ll be voting twice in April.
Use tax supporters say Columbia needs the revenue stream for vital city services like public safety and roads. More than 220 Missouri towns currently have a use tax, including Boonville, Fulton and Sturgeon.