By Bob Balgemann


One of several possible referendums for Boone County voters to consider in November has been put on hold.

There was a lot of talk at the July 20 county board meeting about needing to make a decision by Wednesday, Aug. 17, in order to put the public safety sales tax (PSST) issue on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

It was decided after a series of meetings involving county leaders that way too much work had to be done before such a referendum could be held. So, the future of the tax, originally approved by voters in 1999, will remain unknown for the foreseeable future.

Bonds sold to build a new county jail will be paid off in 2018.

There is disagreement over whether a previous county board promised residents to sunset the half-cent sales tax in 2018.

During the July 20 board meeting, it was stated that such a promise was talked about by a group of residents who supported the 1999 referendum. However, no decision to that effect was ever made by the board.

There also is the belief among some that voters were told proceeds from the tax only could be used to retire the bonds. The referendum question posed to voters on April 13, 1999, reads as follows:

“Shall the county of Boone be authorized to impose a public safety tax at the rate of one-half percent (0.50 percent) upon all persons engaged in the business of selling tangible personal property at retail in the county on gross receipts from the sales made in the course of their business, to be used for crime prevention, detention and other public safety purposes?”

There is no indication that voters were asked to approve a retirement date or that revenue be restricted to bond payments.

A report, last updated Aug. 3, shows that for the first four years, tax revenue was used only to pay off bonds connected with the new jail.

In the fifth year, however, $174,000 of the $987,086 in proceeds was used for staffing at the jail, with $111,000 going for equipment and maintenance. For the next two years, money was diverted only for staffing.

Other expenses, such as an expansion at the courthouse ($155,332 in fiscal year 2010) the purchase of squad cars ($626,107 total in fiscal years 2012-14), received PSST revenue.

So far, the tax has generated $20.845 million in revenue over its 16 years of existence. Of that amount, $11.218 million has gone to bond payments with the balance going to public safety-related expenses. Most of the other expenses has been jail staffing, amounting to $5.410 million

Every year, the tax has brought in more money than needed to make the required bond payment.

During the July 20 meeting, board member Karl Johnson, who also chairs the finance, taxation, and salaries committee, emphasized that no decision had been on whether to have a referendum. Social media once again has helped spread incorrect information around the county on an issue.

“There’s been a lot of talk that it has been decided,” he said of having a referendum. “That is not correct.”



Buy Viagra Overnight Delivery USA.