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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cape City Council Meeting 4/21/14

City Council 3, Libertarian 0

by Greg Tlapek

Community Improvement District (CID) 

I attended the Cape City Council meeting and spoke against the creation of a Community Improvement District (CID).  The Council voted 4-1 in favor of the CID.  Videotape of recent sessions can be found here:

When the Council finally approves, the founding board of the newly created CID will meet and write by-laws for themselves, then cause ballots to be issued to approximately 150 registered voters who live in the District asking them to approve some taxes.   The members of the founding board are specified in the petition which supporters circulated to get the required signatures to present the issue to the City Council.  The CID petition and plan can be viewed at 

Basically a group of people got together and used state law to create a district along Broadway and along Main Street where the property owners will pay additional property tax and shoppers will pay additional sales tax, hopefully to be spent improving the district.  See: Missouri Revised Statutes (RSMo) Sections 67.1401 to 67.1571.

I argued that the state law which allows for the creation of CIDs is flawed.  One hundred fifty people is too few to decide on a sales tax that everyone who shops in the district will have to pay. Furthermore, the correlation between those 150 voters and the property owners who will pay the property tax, and the merchants who will collect the sales tax is probably very low.  In other words, people who will be getting taxed don't get to vote on the taxes.

Fire Tax

In other business, the Council voted unanimously to put a 20-year extension of the 1/8th cent "Fire Tax" on the ballot in August. [Note:  They moved the issue to the November general election because they did not want to compete with two other taxes on the August primary.]  The Proposition will read:  "Shall the City of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, extend the imposition of the City's existing fire sales tax of one-eighth of one percent (1/8 of  1%) beyond its current expiration date for the purpose of providing revenues for the operation of the Cape Girardeau Municipal Fire Department?  This one-eighth of one percent (1/8 of 1%_ sales tax extension shall expire on December 31, 2035.

This tax is in addition to another 1/8th cent sales tax for the Fire Department which is not subject to expiration.

Coverage in the Missourian
The coverage in the Missourian made it sound like the City would be using the money for the Cape Police Department, as well. Responses to their reporting lead me to believe that's not exactly the case. I did some research. The money will become part of general revenues and the thinking of Council members, as I understand it and which would fit with the Missourian reporting, is that the City will need less money from general revenues to pay for the Fire Department and will therefore have more money to spend elsewhere, particularly the Police Department.

This from the City budget:
The Fire Sales Tax Fund is a fund established to account for receipt of a 1/4 cent sales tax 
authorized by the voters in June 2004 to fund operating and capital expenditures of the Fire 
department. The tax went into effect October 1, 2004. One-eighth of the tax expires December 
31,2014 and the remaining 1/8 does not expire. The total amount of the tax will be transferred 
each year to the General Fund to offset Fire operating and capital expenditures. 

Page 174 of the Annual Budget shows the 1/4 percent fire sales taxes are expected to raise about 2.4 million dollars.

Council woman Schneider made it sound like the City has nowhere to go for money besides sales taxes. I put forth two arguments to Joseph Uzoaru after the meeting.
1.  That it would be better to pay for police and fire protection with real estate taxes than sales taxes.  The people with the most property to protect, arguably, receive the most benefits.
2.  That we should spend less on those departments, and particularly the Fire Department since fires aren't a real problem in Cape.  I suggested the Council direct the Police to quit spending money on drug arrests and the Fire Department to quit sending trucks out on every 911 call.

Real Estate Taxes
Here is the breakdown on real estate taxes for most people in Cape (there are just a few who don't live in the City Library District). The least tax, labeled "General Revenue" is what goes to the County for the Commissioners to spend.  The first, and by far the largest amount of the real estate taxes people pay goes to the Cape Girardeau School Board, District #63, to spend on education.  The second largest tax comes in at a mere 16% of what the schools get, and that is what goes to the City of Cape Girardeau.

That 16% amount which goes to the City of Cape Girardeau is divvied up into the three following pieces [Note:  This "General Revenue"  is not the same as the "General Revenue" for Cape County:
General Revenue $0.3027/$100 assessed valuation
Health $0.0567/$100
Library $0.3031/$100

I double checked with the Assessor's Office.  Yes.  We pay more for the Cape Girardeau Public Library than we pay into General Revenue for the City of Cape.  If the CID taxes pass, home owners and commercial property owners who live in the District will pay an additional $0.6708/$100.

Business Park Giveaway

Council also voted to allow the mayor to execute a special warranty deed to Crisp Realty Company for property in the City's business park at I-55 and LaSalle Avenue.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Joseph Uzoaru Won, Use Tax Failed

April 8, 2014

Joseph Uzoaru, who on Facebook describes his political views as libertarian,  won his race for Cape Girardeau City Council.  To see if someone identifies their political views on Facebook, click on "about" and then look under "basic information".

The Use Tax questions all failed in Cape County, by a wide margin, despite wording of the questions on the ballot that was clearly biased in favor of them passing.

Cape County Libertarian Party Opposes Use Tax

Vote NO on the USE TAX.

All the committee members of the Cape Girardeau County Libertarian Party are in opposition to the use tax on the ballot today, Tuesday, April 8, 2014.  


The Libertarian Party

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