While it was a small election, there will be a big impact on the City of Sedalia’s budget after voters approved both tax issues on Tuesday’s ballot by a wide margin.
The out-of-state vehicle sales tax was renewed with 523 voters (71 percent) saying yes, and 215 (29 percent) voting no. The use tax was approved with 490 (66 percent) “yes” votes and 254 (34 percent) voting “no.”
“That’s a compliment to the citizens who took the time to understand the issue, and it’s a complex issue, and it’s an issue that directly impacts each citizen, and I greatly appreciate all the time and effort citizens took to understand this complex issue,” said City Administrator Gary Edwards. “It will benefit the citizens of Sedalia with the improved services.”
The vehicle sales tax will keep an average of $100,000 that the city already depends on in its annual budget. The new use tax, which will mostly affect larger companies with construction projects and won’t affect the average citizen, could add approximately $685,000 to the city’s budget. That money will go toward street maintenance, supporting the fire and police departments, and other city improvement projects.
The use tax issue was on a ballot in 1996, along with a use tax issue for Pettis County. The county’s tax passed, while the city’s tax failed by a mere 31 votes.
“In 1996, it failed by 31 votes, and now it’s passing … even though we combined two issues, we completely reversed the negative 31 vote in 1996 and have a 70 percent and a 65 percent over in both cases,” Edwards said. “That says a lot as far as the citizens of the community go. We found in Sedalia if an issue like this is understood and explained, and if they understand how they as a community and as individuals would benefit, there was a pretty good chance it would be approved. … I think that message got through.”
Finance Director Kelvin Shaw said the election will be certified to the state in 10 days, and the taxes will take effect 45 days after that at the start of the next month.
Edwards added that sales taxes have been “so variable” over the last few years, making them not very dependable. The vehicle sales tax renewal and the addition of the use tax will “help stabilize the revenue for the city,” he said.
“The committee is excited for the City of Sedalia, it’s a great victory,” said Kyle Herrick, of Bryant Motors and a member of the Yes Yes Sedalia Committee that helped distribute information to the public. “We’re excited about the sales tax extension on automobiles, it keeps the playing field level for all of us car dealers, new and used car dealers, which is a huge benefit, and it continues to keep the tax dollars in Sedalia, which is important — we can continue to support the fire and police, and take care of our roads.”
Pettis County Clerk Nick La Strada was accurate with his prediction of 4 to 5 percent voter turnout — 747 voters cast a ballot Tuesday, which is 5.73 percent of registered voters in the City of Sedalia.
“I was hoping to hit that 6 percent, we were almost there, it was 5.73 percent,” La Strada said.
Tuesday was also the first election for Pettis County to launch its new election software, making it the first county in the State of Missouri to do so. La Strada said the implementation went smoothly, and many of the voters he spoke with said they liked the ease and convenience of the tablets.
“Things went absolutely smoothly today with the new technology we implemented, it just went really awesome,” La Strada said. “We did not have any hitches at all with seeing people being checked in, the messaging system, address changes, making sure people showed up at the right location. It was a good election to see how are we going to move forward into 2016 implementing these new tools, introducing them to the voters who haven’t seen them yet.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.