St. Francois County Joint Communications Center can now rely on a stable stream of funding, as voters determined 3,294 votes to 607, or 84% of the vote, to make permanent the 3/8-cent sales tax they last approved in 2014.
The tax annually generates about $3 million for round-the-clock, emergency 911 dispatch services serving St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve counties.
The tax was scheduled to sunset this year, but due to the almost total loss of the landline-phone tax — a tax whose decline drove the center to pursue the sales tax about seven years ago in the first place — the center completely relies on the revenue the 3/8-cent generates.
Director Alan Wells said the victory Tuesday night was a relief.
“That is just so overwhelmingly impressive, what a vote of confidence from the public,” Wells said. “We were fairly confident it would pass, but you never want to take anything for granted.”
Wells said in case the vote hadn’t resulted in the 911 center’s favor, there’d been talks with county and city agencies about possible ways to help absorb the cost of keeping the 911 center operational.
“That’s no longer necessary, and we’re so happy voters realize the value of our services,” he said. “It’s the first spoke of public safety, it’s available to every homeowner’s fingertips and means we serve every single resident, we want the center to be the best it can be for them and for businesses, because a few seconds could mean a costly loss of property and buildings.”
The center serves a population of about 90,000 people and takes an average of 350 calls per day.
Voters also selected two board directors for Subdistrict 2. Winning the 911 Subdistrict 2 board director race were David Pratte with 1,291 votes and Bill Stegall with 1,106 votes. Timmeray Porter and Ginger Taylor ran unopposed for the Subdistrict 1 seats.
Sarah Haas is the assistant editor for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-518-3617 or at email@example.com.