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County Commission pushing for use tax again as past revenue cuts loom

Posted on Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 10:40 am

With the elimination of a revenue stream in 2012 and state funding cuts on the horizon, the Pike County Commis-sioners have revived a plan for a use tax on out-of-state purchases to be placed on the April 2, 2013 ballot.

“We’re like  everybody else, trying to find ways to get money,” Presiding Commis-sioner Danny Miller said Thursday, Dec. 27. “We prefer to call it an out-of-state purchase fee,” to be levied on automobiles, boats, trucks, heavy equipment and materials like pipeline that are laid in Pike County.

The county used to charge a fee on those purchases but it was ruled unconstitutional by a judge in February  2012, who said counties had to have a use tax in effect to get the revenues. Pike County did not have one on the books.

The commission prepared a use tax for the November 2012 ballot, but Eastern District Commissioner Curt Mitchell and Western District Commissioner Roy Sisson Jr. voted to  pull it from the ballot in late August, Miller said.

The county was waiting on Gov. Jay Nixon to run with a state use  tax bill, but he didn’t because it was an election year, said Miller, who voted to keep the tax on the ballot.

“They decided the timing was too late in late August to educate the people,” Miller said of his fellow commissioners.

The presiding commissioner said the county lost almost $80,000  because of the judge’s ruling and can’t get it back unless county voters accept a use tax.

“We’re not getting any (state or county) taxes on cars, boats or any of that stuff,” purchased outside the state, according to Eastern District Commissioner Curt Mitchell. “It won’t affect people here unless it’s a company making a large purchase. There’s a lot (of tax revenue)going to Illinois that could be going here.

“We thought the governor might have done it by now but he said no new taxes during his campaign,” Mitchell said. “That doesn’t look out for the county.”

“Ralls County got $178,000 for the pipeline that went in in 2008,” Miller said. The REX Company pipeline went through a small portion of Ralls County, Miller added.

The use tax, or fee, will be drafted for the April ballot. Once it is approved by a commission vote, the commissioners can no longer spend money to endorse it, Miller said.

“We’ll wait until new (western district) commissioner Jim Luebrecht comes in after the first of the year. We want him to be a part of it,” Miller said.

The funding would go toward better roads, Miller added.