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Greene County Commissioners approve tax initiative for November ballot

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Greene County MissouriGreene County Commissioners voted Monday afternoon to put a one-half percent general revenue sales tax on the Nov. 7, 2017 ballot.

Commissioners anticipate the new tax would generate more than $25.5 million a year, to be used to expand the jail facility, shore up inefficiencies in the justice system and expand services such as animal control and mental health.

The move comes amidst declining revenues and increasing needs identified by Greene County citizens and business leaders.

In December 2014, the Joint City-County Planning Task Force identified three pressing issues that were found to be underfunded in our community: an unsustainable jail facility, unfunded stormwater mandates and the County’s financial stability.

Just over a year later, the County convened a group of the region’s best financial minds for its Financial Advisory Task Force to study the County’s financial practices and identify what, if any, changes could be made to create savings.

They concluded the County to be good and efficient stewards of taxpayer money and recommended the County seek additional revenue:

“It is the unanimous opinion of this task force that the County needs more revenue and that the level of revenue should be the equivalent of a ½ cent sales tax,” the report reads. “The FATF has determined that this amount is reasonable for the need and that this level of sales tax will place Greene County at a tax level comparable with peers and surrounding counties.”

Currently, Greene County’s sales tax rate is a combined 1.25 percent, part of which is distributed to area municipalities and the Springfield-Greene County Park Board. With an added reduction in property tax, the effective revenue the County realizes is only 0.589 percent.

The last Greene County general revenue sales tax approved by voters was in 1988. It is shared equally by the General Fund and the Road and Bridge Fund.

“We have listened to the community on their concerns and needs,” said Presiding Commissioner Bob Cirtin. “When we cut animal control in 2012, citizens felt that loss very deeply. We want to bring that back. Taxpayers trust us to keep them safe and improve their quality of life. We can be more effective in those efforts given adequate space in the jail, efficiency in the justice system and the other community services we hope to implement.

“Ultimately, voters will decide; and no matter the outcome, our community will feel the impact of that decision for years to come,” he said.

See attachments for a list of funding priorities and copies of the task force reports mentioned above.

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