The Boone County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday morning to put a one-eighth-cent sales tax on the August ballot that would benefit the Central Missouri Events Center, county parks and recreational facilities.
The six-year tax is estimated to accumulate between $2 and $3 million annually in funds that will be used to better the overall image of Boone County parks and recreational facilities. Northern District Commissioner Janet Thompson believes the advantages of the one-eighth-cent sales tax would far outweigh the disadvantages.
"This is a real investment in our community, for Columbia, for every entity within Boone County and for Boone County as a whole," Thompson said.
The one-eighth-cent sales tax is the lowest a sales tax increase can be issued under statute. It would equate to 12.5 cents of every $100 a person spends.
The Central Missouri Events Center is a high priority beneficiary if the park sales tax increase is approved in August. The 134-acre stretch of land has not been a source of profit since its purchase in 1999. A large portion of funds would also be allocated to less prominent areas in Boone County.
"It'll allow those smaller communities throughout Boone County to access funding to create recreational facilities right in their own backyard," Thompson said.
Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid is uneasy about the idea of the sales tax increase. He believes the issue associated with parks and recreational centers is not as pressing of a matter to attend to as the lack of police officers and firefighters in Columbia.
"I'm frankly concerned at these additional taxes and effect on public safety," McDavid said. "For me, it is a huge priority to deal with the shrinking public safety staffing we have because of this declining revenue stream."
Mayor McDavid is worried the sales tax increase may also decrease revenue by driving shoppers in Boone County toward online purchasing to avoid the additional tax.