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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Lost sales tax revenue is key issue for officials

Thursday, February 16, 2006

BENTON -- Sales tax revenue lost to Internet purchases and dwindling revenue for E-911 services are among the issues county commissioners can expect to face over the next few years.

Scott and Mississippi county commissioners joined county commissioners from across the state in Jefferson City recently for the annual meeting all county commissioners are required to attend.

While some issues discussed during the annual meeting are specific to larger counties or other parts of the state, there are statewide trends that are affecting all counties.

Commissioners and legislators once again discussed the possibility of establishing a sales tax for Internet sales, according to Martin Priggel, presiding county commissioner for Scott County.

"For the last three years I know we've talked about it," said Jim Blumenberg, Mississippi County's presiding commissioner. "It is getting to be big sales, cutting down on our local sales tax."

Priggel said an estimated $18 billion dollars in sales tax revenue is lost to Internet sales - the very same revenue stream counties depend on to fund operations.

Scott County commissioners said they are in favor of establishing an Internet sales tax.

"I think it creates a fair playing field for everyone," said Scott County Commissioner Jamie Burger.

Diminishing E-911 revenue is also a problem county commissioners both locally and around the state have been aware of for several years.

"E-911 is hurting because so many people have cell phones," Blumenberg said. "And it gets worse every year,"

The decline in E-911 sales tax, which funds E-911 dispatching centers for counties, is due to a shift away from traditional land lines to wireless and Voice Over Internet Protocol phone service.

Priggel said it isn't fair for those with land lines to be subsidizing E-911 for everybody else.

"A lot of people don't even have a land lines anymore," Burger said. He said legislation needs to "stay abreast of technology."

Homeland security and fulfilling requirements such as National Incident Management System training to maintain eligibility for grant funds is still a hot topic that all counties in the state have in common as well as ongoing issues like employee relations and how to handle legal issues.

On the other hand, Scott and Mississippi counties have put behind them issues that other counties are still struggling with such as complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.

"That's still an issue in a lot of counties," Blumenberg said. "Some counties just don't have the money."