It will be unusual indeed for two Franklin County entities to have a vote on sales tax proposals in the April election.
Franklin County is proposing a half-cent sales tax with no sunset provision for a jail expansion project with half the revenue going to law enforcement agencies for equipment and higher pay for officers.
The city of Washington’s half-cent capital improvement sales tax is a renewal of a present tax and it has an eight-year sunset provision.
Officials of both entities are concerned about having these two proposals on the ballot in the same election.
It has been known for some time that both the county and city of Washington were planning on placing sales tax proposals on the ballot in April 2018. Neither has been a surprise. The county has had a consultant working on jail expansion and other law enforcement needs for months. The city’s plans were well publicized with citizens involved in setting priorities for capital improvement projects.
The city of Washington always has had a sunset provision on its half-cent capital improvement tax that has been in force for years. Voters always have supported it. The county, when it built the present jail in the 1990s, had wide support for the project. There is concern about the loss of county law enforcement officers to St. Louis County and city due to a recently approved tax hike to improve their pay.
There are solid arguments for approval of both the county’s and city’s sales tax proposals. No one knows what the mood of the voters will be in April about the two proposals. It is unfortunate that both will be before voters at the same election, which will have other tax issues before voters at the same April election.
How will Washington voters feel about both proposals? Washington will produce the most money for the county’s proposal. It’s no question that Washington voters will be the key to the outcomes.