Cape city council reverses course on sales-tax holiday

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Saying he was responding to phone calls and not "Speak Out," Mayor Jay Knudtson and a majority of the Cape Girardeau city council changed their vote on the contentious sales-tax holiday.

"Perception is power," Knudtson said.

"I've come to the conclusion that there is no way we can get to enough people this year to make our case," he said.

"For a lot of people this is always going to be a thing where we are taking away Johnny's right to buy that back-to-school notebook."

Having voted unanimously to opt out of the holiday on the first reading of the ordinance May 15, the council reversed course and voted 4-3 against the ordinance.

That means Cape Girardeau will forgive its 2 percent sales tax along with the 4.225 percent state sales tax already eliminated on certain items during the weekend of Aug.4 to 6.

But not everyone was in agreement. City manager Doug Leslie pointed out that the holiday includes purchases of computer items valued at up to $3,500. This could be an incentive to businesses to use the holiday for purchases unrelated to back-to-school.

Leslie said the revenue lost over the past two years of the holiday equals $88,000.

Councilwoman Marcia Ritter also worried about the impact on the city's finances. "Those amounts could pay a salary of an individual for a year," she said. "A policeman or someone from the fire department or whoever is on our payroll."

Knudtson also sought to address concerns that there had been collusion between the city, the county and Jackson on the issue. "There has been no allegiances formed on this other than the understanding that it would be best that we all do the same thing," he said. There are issues in government "that it is prudent we communicate on and things it is prudent that we be consistent on, that's just good government," Knudtson said.

In other news, the council voted to approve stop signs at the intersection of Kurre Lane and Melrose Avenue.

Sylvia Edgar of Kurre Lane spearheaded the neighborhood movement which sought a way to eliminate speeding and dangerous driving by motorists using the road as a short cut between Kingshighway and Lexington Avenue.

"In the past five years at my address alone, three vehicles have left the road and ended up in people's yards," she said. "At this point it's just been property damage and that's a good thing, but I'm worried it's going to escalate and there will be people hurt."

Edgar gathered 31 signatures from area residents, many of whom complained that the area was unsafe for biking or even walking.

Knudtson applauded their effort saying Edgar and others petitioned city hall the right way and that the perseverance led to an important change.

tgreaney@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 245

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