I am writing to you in regards to the April 2nd election that is rapidly approaching. While there are a few measures on the ballot, the one I wished to discuss is the use tax being posed by the City of Maryville. However, before I share my personal opinion on the matter I should provide a little background about myself.
I grew up in Clearmont, MO where I lived on my family’s farm until relocating to Maryville in the fall of 2007 to attend Northwest. Since 2007, I have resided in city limits, other than 6 months in 2013 when relocation was necessary to attend a fire academy. In the spring of 2011, I joined Maryville Department of Public Safety’s –Fire Division as a volunteer firefighter, and then in June became a full-time employee with the Public Works Department. I retained full-time employee status with the City, other than the time in the academy, until 3 years ago when I transferred to Public Safety’s–Communication Division as a part-time dispatcher.
In regards to the use tax, my opinion is based on my view as a citizen of the City of Maryville first and as an employee second. To be completely honest, my flinch reaction for almost any new tax, is to be against it, this one included. However, after reading about the tax and discussing its implications with city staff, I will now be voting in favor of the tax.
The reasoning behind the shift to an “in favor stance” is as follows. The cost for everything is gradually increasing, this includes the things required to maintain and protect our city. The way the city pays for such things, such as the equipment used to extinguish a house fire, is through collected revenue in the form of local sales taxes. The increasing trend for most people is to purchase items from online vendors, such as amazon or ebay, which does not generate a local sales tax. So as the cost to operate increases, the funds to pay for those costs are decreasing. A prime example of the increasing maintenance cost is the current condition of the streets, which have been ravaged by winter weather.
While the cost of operation wasn’t new to me, the debt of the city was. After speaking with a fellow firefighter, he spoke of the promises that the city has made to the public to pay off debt in a timeframe. To do this, as incoming funds are decreasing, priorities are made between keeping the promises made to the public and being able to operate departmental functions such as filling potholes and maintaining technology and service to the public’s best interest.
In closing, all that I can ask is that my fellow citizens take time to consider the use tax and what it can do for OUR city. The tax can allow us to maintain and build our infrastructure by paying the same tax we pay locally. Please consider the matter and please cast your opinion on April 2nd.
After a narrow defeat in November, we’ll once again have the Use Tax on ballots in Maryville this April. I’ll ask you to consider voting “yes” this time around.
The local use tax is the same as the local sales tax, just charged on out-of-state, online purchases, and is a way of applying our existing sales tax to those not currently required to pay it. The local use tax levels the playing field for local businesses who are required to charge and/or pay local sales tax.
Currently, by not charging the local use tax, out-of-state companies have an advantage over our local businesses. And, as online sales increase, local businesses and city budgets stand to see reduced revenues from this loophole. As a local storefront owner and online seller myself, I support this tax as a way of being sure our local businesses have the same opportunities as online sellers.
Consider this: If you shop online to procure something you can’t get in Maryville and spend $100, the Use Tax will cost you $2.38, all going back to support our local community. For me, that’s a small price to pay to ensure our community continues its efforts towards vibrancy and growth. Let’s keep Maryville thriving – vote YES.
–– Stephanie Campbell
Owner, Blue Willow Boutique
My name is Fred Von Behren. My wife Sandi and I have been Maryville residents since 1989 when I became the Store Director at Hy-Vee. I retired in 2000 and we chose to stay in Maryville for a variety of reasons. Quality of life was one of the big ones. Lots of things go into quality of life but they pretty much start with how your city operates overall. If you have been around Maryville you can see many of the things our city provides with our tax monies.
Small businesses (and some larger ones-JCP) come and go and they always will. But now that more and more folks are making more and more purchases online the monies needed to operate our city are being reduced. WHY? Because online retailers are not required to collect any sales tax therefore our city loses those funds every time an on-line purchase is made and shipped from out-of-state.
Maryville retailers ARE required to collect the sales tax. Now is the time to close this ‘loophole’ with a ‘use tax’. Many cities and towns in Missouri have already done so. Over 160 of them including Chillicothe, Kirksville, Gallatin, Warrensburg, Stanberry and Tarkio. A use tax levels the playing field for our businesses and brings needed monies to Maryville. The ‘use tax’ is always the same percent as the sales tax (2.375) but no one will ever pay both. We will either pay sales tax when we buy local or a use tax if we buy on-line- but never both!
Overall the ‘use tax’ is expected to generate about $245,000 per year from on-line sales and out-of-state vehicle purchases. That is enough to re-do 2 miles of streets or provide 27 city blocks of sidewalks or hire 4 or 5 public safety personnel. And, all we need to do is say YES on April 2nd.
We are truly a blessed community. But it will become increasingly difficult to maintain what we have come to expect without passage of the use tax. It’s all up to us.
Pease join us on April 2nd when we vote YES on Use Tax! Thank you!
–– Fred Von Behren
On April 2nd Maryville voters will have the opportunity to vote into existence a local use tax. The short explanation is that a tax of 2.375 percent will be collected on purchases made from out-of-state vendors through online purchases. Money collected will be broken up in the same manner that the voter approved sales tax is broken up with the majority, 1.5 percent, going to the general fund (police, fire, street maintenance, etc.) and capital improvements (street improvements, sidewalks, etc.). The detailed breakdown can be found online at www.maryville.org.
I point out these two funds in particular because of the ongoing fight city crews have been battling this winter. They are clearing roads, salting streets and filling knee-high pot holes, only to be slammed with another round of snow and another arctic blast. This winter has been one for the ages. The bitter cold has not only caused the city to spend more tax money on street maintenance, it has also helped add to the growing percentage of online sales. Sales that currently provide no tax for the city to operate with.
I try to make shopping local a priority but convincing my dainty, significant other to even step foot outside in sub-zero weather is an entirely different story. Technology has made shopping easy in even the worst conditions. It is a luxury that isn’t going away, and cities all over the country are learning to embrace it. Use taxes have already been adopted by more than 150 Missouri cities alone. This is how cities are adapting to this shopping trend that is causing lower sales tax revenue. Revenue that is vital to a city’s infrastructure.
It is unrealistic to expect a community to never look outside of its city limits for goods. Shopping online is ok. There are not currently enough stores in Maryville to provide everything to everyone. However, by the citizens of Maryville being progressive and saying Yes to the Use Tax, you are not only helping local businesses stay competitive with online retailers, you are also making it a more attractive place for new businesses to open their doors.
Please vote Yes on April 2nd and help support our local businesses as well as the City of Maryville as it continues to grow.
–– Gentry Martin