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SFC asking voters Tuesday to approve Prop P

From the Your guide to Tuesday's primary election in SFC series
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Prop P

On his own time, St. Francois County Sgt. Tim Harris talks to Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce members about the need for passing Prop P, which would capture online sales tax to better fund the Sheriff’s Department to more adequate levels.

St. Francois County has a use tax proposition on the Tuesday ballot to collect the sales taxes on internet purchases to fund public safety for the county.

The tax on internet purchases will be the same rate or percentage as in-county purchases that are currently being lost to the county.

County Auditor Louie Seiberlich had earlier in the year contacted Cape Girardeau County about their use tax collections, as he considers it a similar county economically. He stated that in 2019 the tax brought in $1.3 million.

The bulk of the projected additional funding is designed to fund increases in pay for the county’s deputies and upgrade equipment. The increase in pay will help with retention of existing deputies and make the county competitive in benefits to add more deputies to the force.

The county projects being able to eventually add 10 deputies to the force to reduce response time and overtime costs. The addition of deputies will also add more visibility and improve proactive policing.

Currently, the additional equipment cost to outfit an officer averages about $3,900.

Sgt. Tim Harris of the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department commented on the shortages the department faces on a daily basis.

“On a day-to-day basis, we’re running short staffed,” he said. “We have roughly 70,000 citizens to maybe three to four patrol deputies in an eight-hour period. Night shift faces its own problems where more criminal activity takes place than it does in daylight. Sometimes I have two guys working on night shift; it’s completely unsafe for them, but what do we do? We can’t throw up a white flag and surrender to crime.”

Added to the department’s woes is the crime rate is also going up with more serious crimes rising rapidly. The amount of calls increased from 14,450 in 2018 to 19,547 calls in 2021 with an increase of only three deputies in 23 years, putting a much heavier strain on the overworked deputies that Harris oversees.

The ballot language for County of St. Francois Proposition P:

"Shall the County of St. Francois impose a local use tax at the same rate as the total local sales tax rate, provided that if the local sales tax rate is reduced or raised by voter approval, the local use tax rate shall also be reduced or raised by the same action?"

Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at


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St. Francois County voters were asked to pass a use/internet sales tax for public safety.

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