Voters in Howell County to Decide Sales Tax Issue, School Bond Issue
Howell County voters next week will decide whether or not the county should continue collecting local sales tax on the titling of motor vehicles, trailers, boats and outboard motors purchased from a source other than a Missouri dealer.
A no vote will continue the tax, and a yes vote will discontinue it.
Howell County’s presiding commissioner, Mark Collins, said many other Missouri counties have had the issue on their ballots. Texas and Shannon Counties will vote on it next week as well.
He said they put it on the ballot because it’s estimated the discontinuation of the tax by a Supreme Court ruling would result in the loss of an estimated $150,000 for the county, and they have no place to make it up.
"Besides all the business--being a border county--we'd lose to Arkansas to the dealers that would be advertising 'to come down here and save your sales tax dollars,'" he said.
He said $50,000 of that would be lost from the sheriff’s department budget.
"We're talking a deputy there that we could possibly lose," he said.
Collins said the question of whether or not municipalities and counties should be allowed to collect sales tax on vehicles purchased out of state has been mired down in litigation and court cases for years. He said a local vote is the only way to resolve the issue.
Richards Schools Question
People who live in a small school district in Howell County will decide whether or not their district will get a high school. Currently, kids can only go through eighth grade there.
The ballot issue asks voters to approve increasing the operating tax levy ceiling from $2.75 to $3.43 per $100 of assessed valuation through 2034 and eliminating fully the Proposition C sales tax rollback in the district’s operating levy to pay for the new school.
Richards Schools’ superintendent, Dr. Melonie Bunn, said the issue was put on the ballot after a gift was made to the district.
"We got a donation from a benefactor who gave us 44 acres with three phase electrical, city water and sewer and a multi-million dollar piece of property," she said.
Bunn said the district can have the property for the high school if the 68 cent levy increase is approved.
The high school would be able to accommodate 220 students.
Currently, students in the Richards District must go to another district for high school, and the Richards District must pay tuition to send them. If they go to West Plains High School, tuition is $7400. It varies per district. Bunn said this year the district paid $1.2 million to send kids to high school.
If the issue passes, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay roughly $116 per year more.
Bakersfield Schools Question
Voters in the Bakersfield School District in Ozark County will decide a $1.9 million bond issue for schools next week. The measure is also on the Howell County ballot because a small number of residents in that district lives in Howell County. If passed, the issue will raise the debt service property tax levy $1.05 per $100 assessed valuation for 20 years or until the debt is paid off.
The money would be used to build a new high school and deconstruct portions of the old high school, which was built in 1928.
Dr. Amy Britt is superintendent of Bakersfield Schools.
"The bricks and mortar are starting to deteriorate. They've been deteriorating for awhile, and in 1964 we had a complete tuck point of the building, and we've continued to patch it since then," she said.
But she said the bricks and mortar are showing their age—numerous cracks and holes have appeared in them.
She said the school board decided it’s time to stop putting a Band-aid on the problem and look for a more permanent solution.
Bakersfield has a total student population of around 380.
Other Howell County Ballot Questions
Voters in the Richards, Howell Valley, Oregon-Howell and Mountain View-Birch Tree and Junction Hill Districts will decide two new board members; one person is running unopposed for West Plains mayor, and voters will decide on a new council person for the city; aldermen for the East and West Wards will be decided; voters in the Willow Springs will decide on a mayor and an alderman for Wards I and II; aldermen for Mountain View's East and West Wards will be voted on; voters in the city of Brandsville will decide their mayor and aldermen for the East and West Wards.
View a sample ballot for Howell County here.