The first official step toward Proposition P becoming a reality in Franklin County was taken Tuesday by the county commission.
In an unanimous vote, the commission approved not only the ballot language, but how the money will be dispersed if the voters pass the referendum in April.
Proposition P would authorize Franklin County to impose a new half-cent tax on all retail sales in Franklin County and, if successful, is expected to generate about $6 million annually.
According to the commission order passed Tuesday, revenues from this sales tax shall be allocated as follows: one-half of the proceeds shall be distributed to the cities and towns in the county and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office according to the percentage of their commissioned law enforcement officers as of Jan. 1, 2018.
The other half of the new funds is proposed to go to Franklin County to be used for additions and renovations to the county jail and 911 dispatching center.
Those improvements are expected to cost about $30 million and plans include an extensive addition and floorplan redesign of the existing jail, dispatch center and sheriff’s department offices.
There is no sunset clause on this sales tax.
After weeks of meetings, discussion and disagreements between the county commission, law enforcement and civic leaders of the county municipalities, which have their own police departments, the official ballot language was included in the commission order as well.
This is how voters will see the referendum in April and they will be asked to mark “Yes or No.”
Shall Franklin County, Missouri, impose a county-wide sales tax of one-half of one percent (1/2 of 1%) for the purpose of providing funds for law enforcement and emergency dispatch services, including but not limited to (1) the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, improvement, maintenance, operating and equipping of a jail, dispatching center and law enforcement facilities and (2) compensation for law enforcement officers, which shall include commissioned officers of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and commissioned officers of the municipal police departments within Franklin County.
Although it was never fully on board with the disbursement of Prop P funds, late last week the city of Washington aggressively voiced its opposition in a letter to the Franklin County Commission.
At the City Council meeting Tuesday, the letter was discussed and a special meeting will be held next week.
The letter voiced Washington’s nonsupport of the current funding formula being based solely on the number of commissioned officers.
Washington instead proposes the distribution of funds based on officers and population and asks for yearly reviews of the disbursements.
If Prop P is approved by voters, roughly $1.1 million would be generated on a quarter-cent sales tax from Washington businesses and is the highest of any municipality.
Basing fund distribution on the number of commissioned officers, the city would receive $375,956 annually.
According to the city’s formula based on officers and population, it would receive $637,432 annually.
The county has until 5 p.m. on Jan. 23, to file the referendum with the county clerk.
By Monte Miller | Missourian