Scott City to vote on sales tax

Monday, August 5, 2002

Scott City to vote on sales tax

By Bob Miller ~ Southeast Missourian

SCOTT CITY, Mo. -- At the city pool, Scott City employees want to keep the water clean. At city hall, they just want to keep the water out.

These are the reasons the city is asking residents to approve a quarter-cent sales tax increase on Tuesday.

Citing problems with the city pool's outdated filtration system, plus leaks and flooding problems at city hall, city administrator Ron Eskew said the city needs to increase revenue. The sales tax rate in Scott City would increase to 7 percent. However, a quarter-cent sales tax that was approved in 1999 for the fire department will expire in 2004, Eskew said.

The tax is expected to produce an extra $70,000 every year.

If a majority of voters approve the measure, the city would install a $54,000 system at the pool that would include sand filters, PVC pipe, chlorine tablets and automatic feeders. The current system, updated in 1987, has iron pipes that rust and uses expensive filters that must be replaced by next summer if the pool is to remain open.

Replacing the old filters will cost $4,000, which will cut into the park budget, parks director Phyllis Crump said. That would mean the parks department wouldn't be able to replace other old equipment such as a 1988 pickup that is shared by three parks employees.

Crump said park workers are constantly "baby-sitting" the current filtration system to keep it running, which is not the best use of their time and labor.

The pool is used by approximately 100 residents per day, Crump said, most of them children. Crump said she has applied for grants but "the grant money is just not out there."

Meanwhile, at city hall, a grocery cart filled with sandbags sits outside the back door in case of a big rain.

A small ditch behind the city hall floods during heavy rains and the backwater flows through the back doors of the adjoining city hall and police department. Eskew said the city has not done an estimate on how much it will cost to fix the flooding problem.

The roof of city hall and the police department also leaks. The roof will be replaced if the tax increase passes, Eskew said. The roof is one of a handful of improvements on the city's wish list.

"The police department is outdated," he said. "It needs new carpeting, and the air conditioning units are having constant repairs."

Scott City Mayor Tim Porch said some of the repairs need to be made immediately.

"I don't like putting any more burden on the people," he said. "But hopefully a sales tax will be easier to stomach than property tax. We have to have it. We have buildings that are deteriorating and we've cut the budgets already where people are working with nothing."

Some in Scott City said they believe the capital improvements are indeed needed and they would support the tax increase.

"It costs money to do things," said Bud Leiner. "You hate to pay for it, but it's a fact. I think we definitely need it, and I'm for it."

Albert Schlenker agreed.

"Well, if that's what it's going for, why, yeah, I'm for it," he said.

Not so fast, say others, like James Lashmet and Homer King.

Lashmet says he is upset with the city with a street project near his house causing water to wash out his driveway.

"I don't have any support for city hall," he said.

King was adamantly opposed to any tax.

"I'm taxed enough," he said. "We've got all these young fellows in offices who say they want higher taxes. I don't give a damn what it's for."

335-6611, extension 127

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