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Boone commission holds public hearing on possible tax increase

BOONE COUNTY, Mo. (KMIZ) -

Residents of Boone County had an opportunity to comment on a proposed tax increase for the 2020 budget.

The county commission held a public hearing on the 2020 budget at its Monday meeting, which started at 7 p.m. in the county government center at 801 E. Walnut St. in Columbia.

The budget draft included a 2-cent property tax increase for the county's general fund, which is currently 12 cents for every $100 of assessed value.

The increase, if approved, would collect about $600,000 annually, according to June Pitchford, the county auditor.

Sales tax revenue for the county has been declining since 2017 and is expected to continue doing so in the future, Pitchford said. She wrote in the proposed budget that in 2020 that the county is expected to collect $2.1 million less than it did in 2017.

"This is a very alarming trend," Pitchford said, adding that there is no indication that revenue could bounce back in the near future.

Revenue from sales tax funds more than half of the county's budget for various services and operations. Since 2017, the loss in revenue has shown in the county's general, road and bridge, children's services, emergency management and law enforcement funds.

The squeeze in sales tax revenue comes after Boone County voters turned down a rate increase in 2017.

A ballot proposal for a use tax -- which is a sales tax that applies to online, out-of-state purchases -- was denied by 54 percent of voters in a special election. Similar proposals also failed in the cities of Columbia, Ashland, and Harrisburg.

Pitchford wrote in the proposed 2020 budget that sales tax revenues "are projected to continue declining into the foreseeable future unless the problem of untaxed e-commerce activity is resolved."

The next two public hearings are scheduled for Dec. 5 and 10 at 1:30 p.m. and 9:30 a.m., respectively. The commission will vote to approve the budget on Dec. 19.

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Barry Mangold

Barry Mangold reports for ABC 17 News on weekday evenings and anchors weekend evening broadcasts.

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