County Sales Taxes - The Missourian: Opinion

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Posted: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 5:00 pm

There was a time, back in the 1960s and 1970s, that Franklin County government was just barely getting by financially. Pay for county employees was meager, not much in capital improvements, such as roads and bridges, could be done, operations were limited, such as in law enforcement, because the county could only do what was authorized by the Missouri Legislature for a second-class county and counties across the state really didn’t have a voice in Jefferson City.

The cities had the Missouri Municipal League which had some force as a lobbying body. The cities were able to convince lawmakers that they needed authority to levy sales taxes for certain purposes with voter approval. That authority moved cities forward. The counties with forward-thinking leaders, such as Ralph Smith in Franklin County, created the Missouri Association of Counties (MAC). One of the first things the association did was to lobby for authorization to levy sales taxes with voter approval. Lawmakers were convinced of the need, recognizing that some counties were near bankruptcy. No longer could counties exist on property taxes. The authority was granted. Counties moved into a new era even though the counties had to roll back property taxes, something the cities were not required to do. When Franklin County became a first-class county, it had additional authority in several areas.

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