County loses round in fight against tax exemption

Friday, May 11, 2007

Cape Girardeau County faces the loss of more than $365,000 in sales tax revenue under a bill given final approval by the Missouri Legislature.

A major revision of economic development laws that was stalled by objections of a handful of state Senators looked to be in trouble earlier this week. But to avoid losing the whole bill, the Missouri House voted Thursday to accept the Senate's final version, which includes a sales tax exemption for utilities and equipment purchases by manufacturers.

That provision will cost the county $365,000 in sales taxes paid by Procter & Gamble, one of the county's biggest employers. Cape Girardeau County Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones had threatened a lawsuit over the loss of revenue, but when a final version was completed two weeks ago, the exemption was narrowed so that it did not apply to local taxes.

With the death of the compromise version, Jones scrambled to contact area legislators to get the local tax restored through another bill.

"I raised hell, yes sir," Jones said.

Area lawmakers have assured him that the county's revenue base will be protected and targeted four bills currently moving through the legislature for an amendment.

A lawsuit could still be in the wings if the tax base isn't restored, Jones said. "I had already called an attorney about possibly representing us. I wasn't going to put up with that and they took me seriously."

Check back at for updates or read Saturday's Southeast Missourian.

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