The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 28, 2013

Carthage Council sets use tax vote

CARTHAGE, Mo. — The Carthage City Council on Tuesday became the eighth Jasper County community to schedule a Nov. 5 election on a proposed use tax.

The council vote to set the election passed 7-3, with dissenting votes from Councilmen Larry Chapin, Kirby Newport and Don McLaughlin. Voting in favor were Councilmen Jim Swatsenbarg, John Studebaker, Steve Leibbrand, Dan Rife, Lee Carlson, Jason Shelfer and Ed Hardesty.

Chapin, who had questioned the proposal during preliminary action two weeks ago, repeated those concerns Tuesday.

He said he believed the measure was being forced on cities without enough information and that it would be difficult to explain to the public. He also said that the action was not needed, since the vehicle sales tax collections that are the focus of the measure were reinstated in action by the Missouri General Assembly last session.

Tom Short, city administrator, noted that the law is a temporary fix and that governments to want to keep the use tax collections will have to gain voter approval by 2016.

Mayor Mike Harris said he wanted Carthage residents to decide the question.

State lawmakers acted in response to a Missouri Supreme Court decision handed down early in 2012 ruling that local sales tax cannot be assessed on vehicles, boats and similar items purchased out of state unless a local use tax also is in place. The Missouri Department of Revenue estimated losses to Carthage at $60,000 annually.

Prior to the vote, Mark Elliff, executive director of the Carthage Chamber of Commerce, said the proposal had been endorsed by the chamber’s board of directors.

“This is not a new tax, it would extend a tax that’s been in effect,” he said.

He said the measure “supports local business” because with out the tax, there is an incentive for residents to go out of state to buy cars, rather than shopping with local businesses that employ local residents.

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