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Council opposes tax issues

Thursday, November 3, 2011

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.

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I'm sorry to read that the Monett City Council has turned their backs on the county Law Enforcement and Prosecution.

I have a couple of questions to ask, though.

You say that you have your own police department and therefore do not need or use the county's law enforcement/prosecution. Do you handle the felony charges too?

I already know that answer... no you do not! Do the citizens of Monett understand that when someone commits a felony level crime, the MPD and court system does NOT house the criminal in your jail nor use your court system and resources for prosecution?

The Barry County Jail and the Barry County Prosecuting Attorney BOTH assist in helping to keep your town as crime free as possible and punishing those who do commit crimes WITHIN your city limits! Apparently the mayor is not familiar with the criminal system and how it works.

Once the charge becomes a felony - it is then the cost of the COUNTY to house and prosecute. Neither agency discriminates against Monett. To say that Monett does not need or use these agencies is actually quite bluntly naive or an attempt to not disclose the full truth.

WHY does Monett have their own 911? It's not necessary because the COUNTY would cover the city limits of Monett as well as all other municipals in this county. Monett is not some large city or even the size of Springfield. It's a bit of overkill, in my opinion, to even have an exclusive 911 Center.

I've also understood that you charge a 911 tax to anyone with the 235 phone exchange - whether they live within the city limits or not - and yet will NOT respond to those calls because they are in the COUNTY. Is this true? If this is true - aren't you the pot calling the kettle black?

I think your decision is more of a reaction to the current 911 dispute with the county. The city council is angry that the county is appealing the decision of the judge.

It was explained many times that this tax increase is NOT for the current legal issues. It is for the lifeline of the sheriff's office and the prosecuting attorney's office. It will KEEP deputies and staff employed so that they can serve ALL citizens of Barry County. Monett is not excluded from this service.

The city of Monett is not a self supporting island and you DO need assistance from the COUNTY law enforcement agency AND the Prosecuting Attorney's office. You just don't want to help pay for it.

-- Posted by golden75 on Thu, Nov 3, 2011, at 8:34 PM

golden is correct, in that all felonies within the county are handled by the County prosecutor. The statement of MOST local crimes being handled by Monett court is correct, but does not explain the complete situation. I believe the overriding point is that county sales taxes currently collected from Monett represent almost as much as is collected from all the rest of the county combined, yet the sheriff dept provides almost no service to Monett, and the prosecutor does not have to provide as much service as other areas of the county require.

golden, you are completely wrong about the 911 situation. I am aware that Barry Co 911 refused to consider taking in the entire Monett city limits--they would consider the Barry Co side only. The portion in Lawrence Co would have been left without service. "Not our problem" they said. The current 911 tax that is collected by Monett is only on Lawrence Co. phone lines.

-- Posted by monett on Fri, Nov 4, 2011, at 12:32 AM

Monett: Monett has the largest population so wouldn't it stand to reason that you would gather more of the sales tax? Plus, you have people coming in from the surrounding areas to shop at Walmart. So proportionally, it's the same for everyone else in the county. It's not like Monett is charged a higher rate!

The sheriff's office provides no service to any of the other municipals that have their own police force EXCEPT for the useage of the jail and any officer back-up that requests it. Do you have any idea of how many felony crimes that originate in Monett that the county takes over on the jail housing and prosecution? Johnnie Cox would know the exact number but I do know that it is high. Any charges that are rolled over to county that originated in Monett are not charged back to Monett. The current cost of housing an inmate runs approx. $35 per day. (according to the information handed out by the sheriff's office) Because of the prosecuting attorney's office being backed up, an inmate can stay in jail for 3-4 months before some type of resolution can be met. The housing alone would run $3,150 - $4,200 for just one inmate. A sex offender could take up to a year to prosecute... that's $12,775! Now multiply that times the number of orginating Monett charges. This does not even include the cost of prosecuting! Does the city of Monett reimburse the county for these expenses? No, they do not.

Thank you for clarifying the 911 service tax issue. For what its worth, I don't think Barry County wouldn't have even been allowed to cover Lawrence County. However, Lawrence County has a 911 service, so they would have picked up their area in Monett and worked together with Barry County's 911.

Law Enforcement and Prosecution requires teamwork from ALL agencies in order to be effective.

The Monett Mayor and Council have shown that they have no interest in being team members in the never ending fight against felony crimes.

-- Posted by golden75 on Fri, Nov 4, 2011, at 5:42 AM

I think that it is very SAD that these agencies cannot work together. Isn't their overall "mission" the same....to serve and protect their citizens. I have lived both in Monett and out in Barry Co...I also have insight into both agencies and know that the ignorance displayed by BOTH sides about the situation is NOT serving the citizens...the TAXPAYERS!!!! I haven't decided my opinion on the taxes proposed yet....I think BarCo would be better served by reorganizing its administration, who is to blame for their financial woes (past and present). But above all, I believe that the city and county need to work together to serve this community. If the administrators and city/county officials cannot be adult enough to do this maybe we should take this into consideration come election time.

-- Posted by mamomma on Fri, Nov 4, 2011, at 9:08 AM

Too bad Lawrence County can't move their county line south about 10 miles. That woiuld be a start

I think the whole Monett vs Barry County is only going to hurt the people who need emergency services the most....the local residents and visitors.

Your Deputies are some of the lowest paid in the State. Their dispatchers start at a lower rate of pay than Monett's. I have seen a lot of mis-information written here, such as Barry 911 refusing to dispatch Pierce City. not true

This is one of the saddest things I have ever seen a City do. So glad I don't live there

-- Posted by oltimer on Fri, Nov 4, 2011, at 2:22 PM

As a former Barry County Deputy, I want to assure everybody that this conflict right now is between the governing bodies of the county and city.

The actual police officers and Deputy Sheriff's for Barry County and Monett, and Lawrence County for that matter, get along great. We worked together on many different cases and incidents perfectly. We backed each other up and helped out with cases all the time. Please don't think that the respective law enforcement agencies don't get along. If anything, the cops are worried that all the conflict over this tax issue will hurt the good working relationship that they have now.

Even though I'm no longer a deputy, I still count many of the Monett Police Officers and Barry County Deputies among my closest friends.

However you vote, remember to support the men and women who work for you and try to keep you safe whether they wear a blue uniform or brown.

Thank you.

-- Posted by evenson55 on Fri, Nov 4, 2011, at 3:23 PM

Once again the Monett City Council has made an ill-conceived decision in passing a resolution that is mean-spirited. Sueing the E-911 group and tossing thousands of dollars into lawyer's laps for their TIF problems is vicious and not in the best interests of the public. This group has no heart for the rest of Barry county that needs the protection from the Sheriff's Department and the excellent service we get from Mike Phillips and the E-911 group located in Cassville. The E-911 group at Cassville is 5 times better t hat what we do not get from Monett! I will vote YES just to spite these MEN that are bullies!

-- Posted by OzarkAdvertiser on Sat, Nov 5, 2011, at 7:39 PM

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