If the City Council hopes to gain approval for a use tax in November, the group knows it must first explain how it would spend the money.

The council agreed Monday to use potential revenue from a use tax to pay for street repairs and capital investments for public safety, such as equipment and buildings for the police and fire departments.

"If we don't designate it, it goes into the general fund and vanishes," council member Barbara LaBass said. "Hopefully this can make it so people know we want to fix the streets and help out our police and fire departments."

Both Buchanan County and city officials have placed use tax measures on the Nov. 6 ballot. If passed, the city use tax would be levied at the same rates as local sales taxes — 2.375 percent — with revenue going to the general fund. Buchanan County seeks a 1.1 percent tax.

City and county officials argue the use tax would remove an advantage out-of-state businesses currently have over local ones. Currently, a customer who purchases a car from Kansas currently does not pay sales tax if they register the vehicle in Buchanan County. Before a Missouri Supreme Court decision created the tax loophole, the city collected roughly $450,000 per year in taxes from out-of-state auto sales, while Buchanan County collected about $250,000, according to City Manager Bruce Woody.

The tax also applies to purchases of supplies and equipment from outside the state for construction projects.

City staff has estimated its tax would generate $2.9 million to $4.9 million per year.

Mr. Woody said the wide range could be explained by major projects. For example, large one-time jobs like the recent construction of a pipeline through Buchanan County required the purchase of mass quantities of out-of-state goods. In Platte County, construction of Kansas City Power & Light's Iatan II power plant added use tax revenue.

"Construction projects drive it quite a bit, but they can vary a lot," Mr. Woody said. "After a few years, we'll get a better idea of what the baseline might be."

Council members were unanimous in their choice for how to spend the money if the tax gains voter approval.

"I'd like to see us designate it to streets, because we're so far behind on that," Mayor Bill Falkner said.

Council member Jeff Penland suggested addressing public safety needs as well. Because the revenue amount will likely vary, staff recommended using the funds for capital projects instead of employee salaries. Simply, revenue could pay for fire trucks and police cars, but not firefighters or police officers.

The recent St. Joseph Community Survey indicated streets and public safety were the largest concerns for St. Joseph residents.

Clinton Thomas can be reached at clinton.thomas@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPThomas.

(6) comments


tax tax tax tax tax tax tax tax ........ Where does it end?


heckler is does not end as long as they are greedy and people keep giving to them they will ask for more and more and more. Sometime they have to be told NO. And let's talk about the streets they put in a new drainage tube under Easton road about 6 weeks ago and back filled it and graveled it and have not been anywhere around to put the asphalt back down so when it turns into a huge pothole what did they do they came back and threw some more gravels in it. This is the kinda of street repair we tax payers pay for?? They start something and do not finish it till someone complains about it. Since this is Mr LaBass district maybe she can get this street issue completed.


Wait - I thought this last tax that was on the ballot in the primary was for street repair. How fricking forgetful do they think we are? I'm sick and tired of hearing about taxes for street repair, then driving on the streets in St. Joe. When are they gonna start fixing them? I think the council just needs more pocket money. I'm say ENOUGH!!!!!


FINALLY! 3 people posting comments exactly the way I've felt for years now. I've been trying to tell everybody with my bullhorn that no matter what tax issue is on a ballot on any given election, it usually ALWAYS passes. And what happens when the citizens of Saint Joseph and Buchanan County FINALLY muster up enough guts to say no to vote it down for once, what happens, here come threats from the bureaucrats that goods, personnel and services will be drastically cut. It gets placed on the next ballot, then it does pass. People of this area, stand up and finally say "Enough is enough"! Every time you read an article reguarding the city council, they want to put a tax issue on the ballot. And I a agree with the 3 comments posted before mine. FINALLY somebody is getting it around here!


Real simple. Just look at my cell bill. Municipal Gross Receipts Surcharge $9.42. City Telecom tax $3.19. Total is almost 8% of the bill. And this is just the city. Total taxes are nearly 20% of the bill. Can we say overreaching? Greedy bureaucrats that can't live within their means.

james john
james john

Wasn't this last tax extension for the Capitol Improvement Tax voters passed supposted to have covered street repairs? Also if both the city & county have decided to add the tax on the ballot, does that mean we the consumer are going to get double taxed for the same merchandise? Also interesting Use Tax Could aid residents. Then just below Potential reverue would go to street repairs, is this the usual bait and switch.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.