comparing cape graphic

Sunday, May 19, 2002

COMPARING CITIES

With the City of Cape Girardeau preparing to ask voters to increase sales taxes, the Southeast Missourian compared Cape Girardeau to some other similar cities. Jackson, Tenn., Jefferson City, Mo., Jonesboro, Ark., Joplin, Mo. and Paducah, Ky., are cities with populations near Cape Girardeau's and share the fact that they are regional hubs. None of them are located within close proximity of a major metropolis. Here's a look:

Cape Girardeau

Two percent sales tax goes to the city. One percent goes to the general fund. That accounts for 45.4 percent of the general fund. Another 1 percent goes to specific projects -- a quarter-cent goes to sewer, a quarter-cent goes to water and a half-cent goes to transportation. The city may ask voters to approve a 3/4-cent sales tax increase in November. In terms of spending, the city has met its proposed budget in recent years, but revenues have come in at lower amounts than expected, meaning the city will have spent more than it took in during the last three years. Non-emergency reserves have been tapped during these years, but after this fiscal year, those reserves could be down to about $400,000.

Jonesboro, Ark.

A one-cent sales tax goes directly to the city, making up 31.5 percent of the overall budget. The city also gets .70 cents sales tax from the county, making up another 23.2 percent of the budget. Jonesboro's 31-cent property tax goes to the library, police and fire pension funds and not the budget. Jonesboro has $10.8 million in reserves. So far this year, the sales tax revenue increase has been higher than after the first four months last year, indicating a economic turnaround there.

Paducah, Ky.

Kentucky state law prohibits cities from collecting sales tax. Forty-one percent of its revenue comes from a payroll tax. Also, the county taxes businesses one percent of their net profit. A big portion of the city's revenue also comes from business license fees.

Jefferson City, Mo.

The city is planning an annexation that would take it from 39,000 in population to 52,000 in population and from 28.59 square miles to more than 60. Jefferson City recently passed an $18-million sewer bond project, pushing the budget from the $30-million range to the 50s.

Joplin, Mo.

The city recently passed a 1/4-cent parks/stormwater sales tax increase in November. Joplin has a pay-as-you-go capital improvement build-up fund which accounts for the disparity between $44,325,050 in revenue and a budget of $53,611,266. Joplin generated $15.6 million in sales taxes last year. Sales tax increases have fallen, but it has not put the city in a grave financial situation.

Jackson, Tenn.

Schools get most of the sales tax, while the city gets most of its revenue from property tax. Jackson has emphasized drawing business and industry to try to increase its sales tax revenue, but it has found that, despite increased business, the proportions of 40 percent revenue from property tax and 25 percent from sales tax have remained the same.

-- Bob Miller

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