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Jefferson City voters approve public safety sales tax


Jefferson City voters approved a quarter of one percent sales tax to improve public safety with 69.84 percent of the vote.

Tuesday's unofficial results show the tax passed 2,719 to 1,174 votes. The overall turnout was 14.03 percent.

Jefferson City's sales tax is now 7.7275%.

According to Jason Ambler with the Jefferson City Police Officers Association, the sales tax will generate around $2.8 million per year.

Ambler says this money will help both public safety aspects, police and fire. On the police side of things, Ambler says the money is needed to increase salaries regarding recruitment and retention, as well as the need for body cameras for officers.

"We are falling behind the times in regards to recruitment and retention," Ambler said. "We're short on the road with officers, and we're losing the applicants that we used to have. We're also losing senior officers to other agencies."

James Noah, president of Jefferson City Firefighters Local 671, says they also have retention issues because of the lack of salary progression.

"We used to utilize a two-year list for the hiring process now, we're doing that as a year list," Noah said.

Ambler says these departments can only be as strong as citizens allow them to be. He said out of 33 cities in the state with a population between 20,000 to 80,000, Jefferson City is the only one without a public safety tax and one of four in that category without body cameras.  

"We're also one of those cities that are over at the lower level of starting pay," Noah said. "Currently, we start out at $39,900 is the starting salary for a probationary firefighter and that's not taking into account the 56-hour workweek pay scale when they're a 40-hour employee."

Jefferson City citizen, Edward Greenslit, says he supports more money going to public safety in the area, but he also has some reservations.

"My concern is you know tracking the funding and making sure it's going to where it's supposed to go. Also, with it being a sales tax that is going to impact lower income people," Greenslit said.

With some citizens concerned about the tax increase, Ambler says this sales tax will start in April, which is also when there is an eighth of a cent falling off of the Cole County law enforcement tax, meaning that Cole County citizens would only see an eighth of a cent increase total. This comes out to about 12.5 cents for every $100 or $1.25 for every $1,000.

Collection of the tax starts April 1.

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Chanel Porter

Chanel joined ABC 17 News in January 2021 after graduating from Penn State University. She enjoys traveling and a daily iced coffee.


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