What would have happened to Franklin County had voters not approved sales taxes to help pay operating expenses? Bankruptcy? That may have happened.
The Missouri General Assembly gave cities the right to enact l-cent sales taxes if their voters gave approval. That happened before that source of revenue option was granted to counties. When counties saw what cities were able to do by being organized under the umbrella of the Missouri Municipal League, which lobbied to give cities the authority to levy sales taxes if voters gave their approval, they formed the Missouri Association of Counties (MAC). Franklin County officials were out front in organizing the Missouri Association of Counties.
MAC lobbied the General Assembly to give counties the authority to levy sales taxes for various purposes. The counties were successful in that endeavor except they were limited to a half-cent sales tax for particular uses. Franklin County voters approved sales taxes for general revenue, roads and bridges, and law enforcement. Voters actually approved at different times a quarter-cent sales tax for law enforcement to bring that total tax to a half-cent.
Think of what would have happened to Franklin County without the authority to levy sales taxes? In 34 years the sales taxes have produced $357,763,769 for the county. Franklin County has had steady growth in both assessed valuation and population in the last 34 years. The sales taxes helped the county to meet demands that accompany growth. The county had aging infrastructure, especially in its road and bridge system, and one of the first things given a priority was the replacement and/or improvements to bridges.
Another priority was law enforcement. The two quarter-cent sales taxes enabled the county to add to its staff, operate a large jail and buy equipment. The general revenue sales tax came first in 1983; the capital improvement sales tax was approved by voters in 1989; and the law enforcement sales taxes came in 1996 and the second in 2007.
In 2017, county voters will be asked to approve a half-cent sales tax for jail expansion and half will go to law enforcement officers throughout the county and for equipment.
Voters deserve the credit for recognizing Franklin County needs and providing the revenue to meet the demands of the more than 100,000 residents of the county.