The Monett City Council has passed a resolution opposing the two proposed sales taxes in Barry County.
"I've had several citizens ask for the position of the council," said Mayor Jim Orr. "We usually don't do a resolution. In this situation, we felt our view will be known."
The resolution, passed during a special session on Monday, refers specifically to the 3/16th of a cent sales tax proposed by the Barry County Commission to support law enforcement and the one-eighth-cent sales tax proposed by the Barry County E-911 Board to support the county's 911 service.
"The council expresses its position that these increased sales taxes are not in the best long-term interests of its citizens, and encourages all eligible voters to vote no on both issues," the resolution stated.
Four points were cited backing the council's position:
* Higher taxes tend to discourage economic growth.
* Barry County E-911 does not provide any service to Monett residents with the city operating its own 911 system without support from the current county-wide sales tax. Commissioners indicated the current tax collects $885,000 a year, $400,000 of which come from sales in Monett. "Other area E-911 systems provide quality service efficiently with fewer resources," the resolution said.
* The county's proposed 3/16th-cent tax would support law enforcement. "The Monett Police Department provides 24/7 protection for its residents, without receiving any funds from the Barry County taxes currently collected, nor would Monett receive any share of new taxes, if approved by voters. The city of Monett also has its own court system and prosecutor to handle most local criminal cases," the resolution said.
* The Barry County Commission and Emergency Services Board have spent more than $400,000 in legal fees over the past two years as a result of refusing to allocate funds to the tax increment financing (TIF) districts in Monett, as required by law. "The TIF court case was decided in favor of the City of Monett and now Barry County and Barry County E-911 are spending additional money appealing the case," the resolution said.
"For these reasons, the Monett City Council urges the residents of Monett eligible to vote on these Barry County issues to vote no on Nov. 8," the resolution concluded.
During Monday's meeting, Orr said while Monett operates its own E-911 system, the city had approached the Barry County E-911 Board about serving as an emergency back-up for their system and also offered to cross-train city employees so all of the dispatchers in Barry County would be able to work with either Barry County or Monett's system. Each of Monett's offers were either rejected or not acted upon by the Barry County E-911 Board.
"We feel as though we cannot support them in this effort when they have not shown any willingness to work with us," Orr said.
Ralph Scott, who also attended the meeting, commended the council for taking a position on the taxes. Scott said he usually backed civic-minded tax proposals, but agreed with the council members in taking a stand on this occasion.
Council members attended public forums held on the tax proposals to become better informed before taking a position.