If the Boonville City Council approves its placement on the ballot, Boonville voters will get another chance to decide if they want to keep the city’s half-cent capital improvement sales tax.
The council will vote at its next meeting Tuesday to decide if the tax should appear on the April ballot. Voters last approved the tax in 2015. It has to be renewed every five years.
The half-cent sales tax has raised about $660,000 to $690,000 each of the past three years, and has generated a total of $3.28 million since voters last approved it in 2015. It primarily pays for capital improvements and helps fund the city’s parks, roads, police and fire departments, economic development activities and contracts with community organizations.
“Sometimes we save it for a couple years and use it for a really big project, if that’s something that’s needed, or we use it for smaller projects along the way that take stress off the general fund and gaming fund,” Fjell said.
Twenty-six percent of the funds go to roads, like the chip seal the city applies every year or the recent improvements to the B Highway shoulders, Fjell said. That’s amounted to $518,040 over the past three years. That also pays for the 90 to 10 cost-sharing program for fixing sidewalks, where the city pays 90 percent of the cost and the landowner pays 10 percent, Fjell said.
“We put about $180,000 into our streets this year in things like chip seal, and those kinds of preventative maintenance go a long way so we don’t have to do a full rebuild, which is the most costly repair,” Fjell said.
Twenty-seven percent goes to parks, totaling $534,960 over the last three years. It pays for larger projects like the scoreboard at Twilman Field, the rubberized surfaces that replaced wood chips on playgrounds, a walking path at Rolling Hills Park and new infield dirt on Twilman and the fields at Rolling Hills, Fjell said.
The fund is paying for work on the Twilman Field grandstand that the city is working on now, she said. Parks also uses the funds for recurring equipment purchases, like replacing pool chairs and lawn mowers, she said.
Ten percent goes to the police and fire departments. The Boonville Fire Department typically saves up its portion until it has enough for a major purchase like new suits or breathing apparatus, she said. It’s received $99,000 from the fund over the last three years.
The Boonville Police Department has received the same amount. It spent $10,000 each year for computer services and upgrades, and a combined $5,400 for crime scene investigation equipment and $11,600 on body armor for its officers.
Ten percent of the sales tax is also distributed as grants to local community groups. Last year, the Boonville City Council approved a total of $69,000 in grants, including funding for Harvest House, the Riley Equine Center and the Chamber of Commerce Fireworks display. The remaining 27 percent goes towards economic development.
As gaming revenues decline, the city has been shifting some projects over from the gaming fund to the CIP fund, Fjell said. Without the CIP tax, they’d have to reconsider how those projects could fit into gaming revenue, which has been in steady decline for years.
Without the tax, Fjell said the city would have to look at cutting some of the programs it funds, like the 90 to 10 sidewalk repair program. It would also look at not replacing equipment as often, she said.
The fund distribution breakdown isn’t set by statute and would remain the same if the tax is renewed, she said.