Bonne Terre voters say no to property taxes

Turnout for special election was 21 percent
2011-11-09T08:55:00Z Bonne Terre voters say no to property taxesBy TERESA RESSEL Daily Journal Staff Writer Daily Journal Online

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.

City leaders had been hopeful the tax would pass this time around because a survey showed interest in a property tax.

Teresa Ressel is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 179 or at

Copyright 2015 Daily Journal Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. busymom
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    busymom - November 15, 2011 9:26 am
    I think I speak for most Bonne Terre citizens when I say that I would be more than willing to pay city real estate taxes if I wasn't paying such high sewer rates. It's triple here what it is everywhere else in the county. We pay almost $90 a month for water/sewer/trash. I just moved here last year from Park Hills. I paid $55 a month there for water/sewer/trash. That is a $35 a month difference for the same amount of water. That's a $430 a year difference just for water. I would gladly pay the $150-$200 in taxes each year if my water/sewer rates were the same as all the other cities in the county. I tell you what Bonne Terre lets do a trade! Oh and another thing our county realestate taxes here are ridiculous. Bonne Terre doesn't have very high property values like Farmington yet we pay really high realestate taxes because of the school district. We pay almost $1,000 a year for a house that appraised around $100,000. I can see why people won't move here and businesses either. I think Bonne Terre is rich in history and has so much potential but if things don't change, it will only continue to worsen.
  2. commonsensesayer
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    commonsensesayer - November 10, 2011 1:37 pm
    Sealed fate? Sad? How? That people don't want yet another tax?! How is that sad? I guess the city leaders will have to make due with what the have right now.

    B.T. did put out an estimate on how much revenue the new tax would generate, but were very vague on what would be done with it. I read that there would be new side walks and streets would be re-paved. What I would love for someone to explain is, How was this real estate tax going to be the key to bringing in businesses? Perhaps I am ignorant of how this all works, but how are higher taxes good for attracting new businesses. Taking more money from people means less to spend at existing businesses. Besides, doesn't BT have the highest sales tax rate around? Maybe they should have done a "tax swap" like Farmington did. Lower the sales tax, but enact a real estate tax.

    Just my two cents...............
  3. rebelfan1111
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    rebelfan1111 - November 09, 2011 2:35 pm
    The results mirror those in other tax districts. I think it may have helped if the proponents had provided more information as to the estimated tax increase in terms of dollars. I never read anything that did so.
  4. americangirl
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    americangirl - November 09, 2011 12:08 pm
    The citizens are just making this harder on themselves. When they get upset over streets that need repaired being left undone, you can thank yourselves for the way you voted. If the city doesn't have the money to fix them, there really isn't anything the city can do. I cannot believe in this day and age, that a city, no matter how small, would not have a tax base to rely on for improvements to the community.
  5. blasterrat
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    blasterrat - November 09, 2011 11:06 am
    About the dumbest thing I've read all week. Sealed fate I suppose. Sad.
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