While several cities in Missouri are struggling with declining sales tax while planning their budgets, Boonville is an exception.
The city charges 1 percent in sales tax, which is projected to be $1.455 million of the 2018-19 fiscal year $14 million that began April 1.
Sales tax revenue is used to fund operations like police and fire. Of the $5.8 million in the general fund expenditures for the 2018-19 budget, the police department received $1.78 million or 30.6 percent of the expenses. The city also budgeted $706,500 for capital sales tax, $2.5 million for water and $2.46 million for wastewater.
Boonville City Administrator Irl Tessendorf said the police are budgeted the most money, because the department has the most employees in the city. The BPD, led by Police Chief Bobby Welliver, is comprised of 21 sworn and 7 non-sworn employees.
In the 2017-18 fiscal year, the sales tax projection for the city was $1.39 million, but the city actually received $1.45 million, $10,000 more than what was budgeted.
The city of Mexico, with a population of 11,680 compared to Boonville’s 8,462, expects to take in more revenue in sales tax. Mexico budgeted the same amount that was estimated in 2017 at $3.38 million after failing to make its 2017 projection by $66,000.
The city of Columbia, with a population of about 120,000 people, projected a 2 percent decrease in sales tax revenue — amounting to a more than a $900,000 decrease for the current fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.
Tessendorf said Boonville’s sales tax numbers have remained pretty stagnant. “If it goes up $20,000 to $30,000 I would be happy,” he said.
Tessendorf, who has been the city administrator in Boonville for about 13 years, said he only remembers sales tax declining for two of those years, and wonders why cities like Columbia are having difficulties. Some city officials blame people purchasing items online from out-of-state retailers that do not charge city sales tax if the retailer does not have a store in Missouri. Tessendorf said, while this is an issue, it affects all municipalities, and sometimes smaller communities are affected more because residents have difficulty finding certain items locally.
Mayor Ned Beach said local stores like the Family Shoe Store on Main Street has been affected by online sales. “It affects our downtown merchants,” Beach said. “It’s real and substantial. It’s a bigger problem for the communities that don’t have a river gambling boat.”
If not for the Isle of Capri Casino, sales tax would take on an added importance, Beach said. According to budget documents, the city receives $3.42 million in gaming revenue from the casino, $2.3 million from parks and stormwater sales tax and $245,500 in tourism tax.