County sales tax will be key issue on ballot

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

NEW MADRID - New Madrid County residents will go to the polls Nov. 8 to decide whether to impose a countywide sales tax.

The New Madrid County Commission has proposed a 1/2 cent sales tax. Of the money generated, the Commission has allotted 25 percent to be shared among the incorporated cities within the county.

New Madrid County Clerk Clement Cravens said the general revenue fund tax could generate some $1.4 million annually. The 15 communities in the county, dividing the 25 percent of the revenue, could receive an estimated $23,000 annually.

According to Cravens, the tax is needed to continue funding county services.

"As the county clerk, I'm aware of the financial condition of the county and it is obvious each year we are getting more and more into a deficit spending situation," Cravens said.

He explained the county had run a surplus for many years and now is depending on the surplus funds to avoid going in the red. "That surplus won't last forever. We have to find a way to end deficit spending now," he said.

The choices, according to the county clerk, are to pass the sales tax or cut services. Many cuts have already been made, Cravens said, and if the sales tax is not approved there will be layoffs. "How drastic these cuts will be won't be known until made and the county offices have to function without personnel that have been there for years," said Cravens.

A simple majority is needed for the tax's approval.

The only other issue on Tuesday's ballot will be decided by residents of Lilbourn. The voters are being asked whether the office chief of police should be an appointed position or continue to be elected by voters.

Cravens said only a few absentee ballots have been voted and returned to his office for the Nov. 8 election. He estimated voter turnout would be similar to August's special election which had some 1,200 votes cast.

The following are the precincts and their locations:

Anderson 1 and 2, Gideon City Hall; Big Prairie 1 and 2, Matthews City Hall; Big Prairie 3 and Hough 1, Royster Clark Services, Highway 61 North; Big Prairie 4, Market Place in Sikeston; Como 1 and 2, Parma Community Building; Como 3 and 4, Risco Community Building; Como 5, David Barton Gin in Catron.

LaFont 1 and 2, Marston City Hall; LaFont 3, Conran Masonic Building; LeSieur 1, Millard Cook resident at Scrub Ridge; Lewis 1 and 2, Lilbourn VFW Building; Lewis 3 and 4, City Hall Community Development Corporation at Howardville; Lewis 5, City Hall-Men-in-Unity House 11, North Lilbourn; New Madrid 1, New Madrid City Hall; New Madrid 2 and St. John 1, New Madrid County Courthouse; New Madrid 3, New Madrid County Courthouse; New Madrid 4, Village Market in Kewanee; New Madrid 5, fire station at LaForge; Portage 1, Portageville City Hall; Portage 2, Knights of Columbus Hall in Portageville; Portage 3, Tallapoosa City Hall; West 1 and 2, Community Building in Morehouse; and West 3 and 4, Canalou City Hall.

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