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Bonne Terre considers putting property tax on ballot

BONNE TERRE — Recent discussions with residents have some city officials thinking about getting a property tax on the ballot again.

During the public comment part of the Bonne Terre City Council meeting Monday night, a resident asked what needs to be done to get a property tax passed in Bonne Terre. She said she knows the city desperately needs it.

Mayor Fritz Gower said a property tax has been tried before, but people haven’t understood the need for it. He said several people have talked to him recently about the idea of putting a property tax back on the ballot and it is something they are considering.

He said he would like to get a property tax issue on the April ballot.

Bonne Terre is one of only a couple cities in the state that does not have a property tax. The city has not collected a property tax since 1979.

The last attempt to pass a property tax was in August of 2006 and then nearly 71 percent of voters voted against it.

Currently, the city counts on sales tax for revenue.

City Administrator Larry Barton said a property tax would help them to get grants. He pointed out that revenue hasn’t been increasing, especially with businesses like Egyptian Concrete possibly closing down.

The resident asked if sewer rates could decrease if the city could get a property tax in place. Gower said that isn’t something they’ve really explored. Others pointed out sewer increases are due to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) imposing mandates and new rules.

From the audience, Susie Gower suggested residents contact their state legislators about what DNR is putting little towns through.

Also during the meeting, a resident asked city officials if anything was going to be done with the vacant Penny Pinchers building.

Larry Barton said USA Drug has been looking at building there but the problem has been with the EPA and DNR and the buried fuel tanks.

Fritz Gower indicated he was pleased with the crowd for the last two meetings. He said because of Ernie Cook’s comments made at the last meeting, city officials are reconsidering purchasing a paver to pave their own streets. He said they are realizing it may cause the city more problems. He said some of the streets will need milling, which would require more equipment.

He said these are the kind of comments they want from residents in town. He said if people have a gripe or a concern, the way to get their attention is to attend a city council meeting.

“In this case, he got our attention big time,” he said.  

In other matters, Police Chief Doug Calvert said steps have been taken to make sure the flooding problem shouldn’t happen again. The city was able to minimize the damage to the police station by taking quick action.

During the meeting, Fritz Gower and Carolyn Tyler presented Janet Barton, who has volunteered on many committees and is a former council member, with a plaque of appreciation for her service to the city. A tree donated by Country Way Nursery was also planted in a city park for her. She announced last month that she is resigning from the city committees. She is currently on the North County school board.

In other matters, David Driemeier told City Administrator Larry Barton that he needs to look at a pipe that is not draining correctly at the pond.

Gladys Edwards thanked the city for allowing volunteers to collect money in the intersection on Halloween for the Todd Inserra family. She also thanked individuals who donated and businesses like Country Mart, McDonalds, Subway, Jack in the Box, and Burger King that helped.

Jennifer Herrera, a member of the Bonne Terre soccer board and a city employee, said 230 children participated in the city’s new soccer league this year and it went well. She said Saturday marked the end of the season.

Larry Barton introduced the city’s new receptionist, Cindy Koester.

The council approved a contract with James Rash of Bonne Terre as the computer tech for the city. The council accepted a bid from First State Community Bank to finance the purchase of a backhoe for the street department at 2.95 percent.

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

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