The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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August 4, 2013

Council asked to authorize election on use tax

JOPLIN, Mo. — Formal approval will be sought tonight from the Joplin City Council to place on the Nov. 5 election ballot a use-tax proposal that essentially would reinstitute city sales tax assessments on autos purchased out of state.

The council had earlier given the city staff the OK to proceed with work toward preparing the issue for an election.

A Missouri Supreme Court ruling in January 2012 overturned the practice of collecting local sales taxes on motor vehicles that were purchased out of state unless the local jurisdiction has an equivalent use tax in place. That means that area residents are not paying city or county sales taxes when they register a car, truck, boat, trailer or other property that requires a title when the purchase was made in another state.

“Local businesses can lose business by people going out of state to buy vehicles, and it can impact local sales tax collections,” Leslie Haase, the city’s finance director, told the council in a June discussion about the issue.

She estimated that the ruling had cost Joplin about $188,000 in sales tax proceeds the first few months of this year and that yearlong losses could amount to $430,000.

The Joplin area is one that could lose more than some other regions of the state because of its proximity to Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Missouri has a use tax of 4.225 percent, equivalent to the state sales tax, so those who register a vehicle or trailer are paying that tax but not a Joplin or Jasper County tax.

Haase, asked how much the local use tax would be if it were approved, said: “It has to be the exact same rate as our sales tax. Right now that would be 2.625 percent,” and it would be adjusted if Joplin were ever to change the amount of the sales tax.

Gov. Jay Nixon signed two bills earlier this summer to resurrect the tax for cities and counties, but that is a temporary fix, Haase said. The legislation for cities and counties that do not have a voter-approved use tax expires in 2016.

In other business tonight, the council will hold public hearings on a number of zoning issues, including proposals to annex 13 pieces of property around the area of Interstate 44 and Highway 166, and on Nee Road between Highway 166 and the Missouri-Kansas state line. The properties are located in the area of the roundabout and convenience store at Downstream Casino Resort.

The properties are owned by the Quapaw Tribe and are part of a sewer agreement signed in 2008 between the tribe and the city of Joplin in which the city extended its sewer lines to land where the casino’s convenience store has been built in exchange for an agreement to bring the land into the city of Joplin. One advantage to that for the city is that it will allow sales tax to be collected.

There may not be agreement among all of the tribe to allow the property to come into Joplin. When the annexations were presented to the city’s Zoning and Planning Commission last month, Commissioner Gary Duncan asked why it had taken so many years to act on the agreement. He was told by the city staff that not all parties were agreeable, and that the city had given the tribe extra time to consider it. The city was given power of attorney to annex the property in the agreement, and it is using that legal authority.

Duncan asked if property owners have to sign for voluntary annexation. He was told they do not. Commission members voted to recommend that the City Council approve the annexations.

The Globe left a message for tribal officials asking for comment on the city’s action, and there was no response.

A public hearing also is scheduled on a request by McDonald’s Corp., 1123 S. Range Line Road, for the city to vacate a 10-foot easement on the restaurant property.

Time, place

THE CITY COUNCIL meets at 6 p.m. today on the fifth floor of City Hall, 602 S. Main St.

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