Jefferson City's New Budget Could Increase Tax on Utilities

Sep 8, 2015

The Jefferson City Council is slated to vote Tuesday night on the proposed city budget.

Credit / Missouri Department of Tourism

Drafted by newly elected Mayor Carrie Tergin, the budget includes increased funding for public safety and the refurbishment of the Missouri State Penitentiary.

Mayor Tergin has also sought to balance the budget without increasing taxes.

However, the Jefferson City Council has decided to increase the Gross Receipt Utility Tax (GRUT), increasing the tax on firms and corporations that sell and distribute gas and telecommunication services to businesses or industrial services.

Mayor Tergin wanted to improve the wages for city employees with a pay increase of 2 percent across the board. However, the Council decided to give every city employee a dividend of $900.

The budget includes funding for a new fire training officer position and new police cars. Tergin proposed to lease the vehicles, but the Council wants to purchase the vehicles instead by raising the GRUT tax to 6 percent. The Council has the ability to increase the GRUT tax to 7 percent without any public input.

Mayor Tergin said she feels strongly against increasing the tax.

"Even though it is a small amount, it affects people who are already on tight budgets, and it affects some businesses who are large utility users more than others, and I would prefer to be more encouraging to businesses rather than increase the GRUT tax," said Tergin.

The Missouri State Penitentiary would also receive $15,000 from the city in refurbishment money. If this measure is approved, the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau would match the amount.

The funds would go to improving the tours and providing a safer facility, in particular fixing some unsafe lighting fixtures.

"What I really like about it is bringing in partners so it's not just us, it's bringing other entities in, so our funds become more impactful and in turn we are investing in our community," said Tergin.

The new budget year begins on Nov. 1. It totals in $60 million.