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Tax questions, bond issues dominate April ballot

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COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Plenty of local governments in Mid-Missouri will be asking their constituents for more tax revenue this April.

Twelve area school districts have put tax levy increases or bond issues on the ballot, and 17 cities, fire districts and ambulance districts have such questions on the ballot.

Among the cities, many of the questions pertain to establishing a use tax.

School districts

Schools around the area are asking voters for more money to run their operations or to make upgrades.

The largest ask comes from Columbia Public Schools, which is seeking an $80 million bond issue that would build a new elementary school and make upgrades to other buildings. The passage of the bond issue would not increase the district's debt service tax levy.

The Hallsville School District is asking voters to approve a $6 million bond issue that would fund improvements including new middle school classrooms and a new athletic track. Also in Boone County, Southern Boone is seeking a $3 million bond issue and Centralia wants $10 million for construction and upgrades. Harrisbug schools are asking for $3 million in bonds, as well.

Schools in Chariton, Cooper, Miller and Cole counties are also seeking bond issue approval. One -- Brookfield -- is asking voters to increase its operating tax levy.

Cities, fire districts, ambulance district seek tax issues

Cities and fire districts around the area are also asking voters for money, along with one area ambulance district.

Many of the tax questions ask voters to approve a use tax. Use taxes would apply primarily to purchases made online from out-of-state vendors. Local officials who support such taxes say they help level the playing field for local businesses and allow governments to capture tax revenue they're missing out on as more sales are made online.

Mid-Missouri cities with use tax issues on the ballot include Columbia, Ashland, Montgomery City, Laurie, Versailles and Centertown. Lohman is asking for voters to approve a local sales tax.

Other cities are seeking bond issues, including Jefferson City, where the city council has asked for permission to borrow $44 million for sewer upgrades. Other cities with bond issues are Martinsburg and Iberia.

A few fire districts are asking for more money either through operating tax levy increases or through bond issues. The Tuscumbia Fire Protection District, Otterville Fire Protection District, Holts Summit Fire Protection District and North Callaway Fire Protection District are all seeking operating levy increases of varying amounts. The Cooper County Fire Protection District is asking voters to OK a $2 million bond issue.

The Van-Far Ambulance District is also seeking an operating tax levy increase.

School boards

School board races feature heavily on most ballots around Mid-Missouri.

The battles over how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic have inspired many candidates to seek school board seats around the country this year. Races in Columbia and Jefferson City have each drawn four candidates for two seats. Only one incumbent, Blake Willoughby in Columbia, is running for reelection.

The race for the Southern Boone Board of Education features five candidates.

Races for mayor and city councils and boards of aldermen are also prominent on the April 5 ballots. Columbia will elect a new mayor and two city council members. Ashland will also select a new mayor.

Jefferson City will also elect two council members.

Article Topic Follows: Politics
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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

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