BONNE TERRE — Once again, voters failed to approve a property tax for the city of Bonne Terre.
The city had asked voters for authorization to levy a property tax of 75 cents per $100 of assessed valuation for its municipal purposes, including but not limited to funding capital improvements.
On Tuesday, 190 (36 percent) residents voted for the tax while 334 (64 percent) voted against it.
At the Bonne Terre polling place, there was a 21 percent voter turnout compared to Farmington’s 8 percent turnout. St. Francois County Clerk Mark Hedrick said that was a pretty good turnout for a special election.
The city has been without a property tax for years and several attempts to get one passed have failed. City Administrator Larry Barton had estimated the property tax would produce less than $180,000 annually. City leaders said approving a property tax for the city would be a step in the right direction. The tax was to be on real estate only, not on personal property.
Barton said the election results were really disappointing.
“I guess we’ll just have to live with what we’ve got ... and make the best of it,” Barton said.
Ellen Masulit and two other members of the Bonne Terre Advancement Committee sat inside the courthouse annex Tuesday night waiting for the results.
“We’re greatly disappointed,” she said after the results came in. “We’d obviously hoped for better results.”
She still hopes Bonne Terre will move forward but she is unsure how that will happen. She said Bonne Terre is one of the few cities in the state without a tax base and that is something that is considered when a city applies for grants.
City leaders had hoped the tax would provide a stable source of income for city officials to count on when making the budget for the following year or when applying for matching grants. Sales tax revenue varies from month to month and year to year.
A property tax would have provided a little extra funding for general capital improvements such as sidewalks, paving projects, and infrastructure such as water and sewer.
Barton had said the city, like others in the area, are being mandated to work on their water system’s radionuclide problem. They still don’t know how much it will cost because they are in the early study stage.
Mayor LeeRoy Calvert said they still have to address the city’s Inflow and Infiltration problem on the sewer side.
“These regulations come from the federal government and we have no control over it,” he said.
If the city doesn’t follow the mandates, it can be assessed fines and the government can step in and determine what the rates should be.
There are also many streets that need to be paved but there isn’t enough sales tax money to address all the needs.
A property tax would enable the city to place liens against owners when the city has to mow grass for them or for those owners who leave behind unpaid utility bills. Barton said they are out a lot of money every summer having to clean up yards.
Teresa Ressel is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 179 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.