Letter to the Editor

Letter: ‘Vote yes on Nov. 5’

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Dear Editor:

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, Sikeston voters have a referendum decision.

The City of Sikeston is asking voters to approve a use tax which will allow Sikeston to collect tax on internet sales that are currently not subject to taxation. This does not change the rate of our current 3% city sales tax. In fact, if a current sales tax were to sunset, this rate would decrease.

Sales tax revenue makes up just over 60% of total revenue that funds critical services in our community. Internet purchases are eroding our revenue, as well as many other communities across the country. Retail brick and mortar stores are closing at record rates, and the trend appears to have no end in sight. Be mindful of Falkoff’s, J.C. Penney and many outlet stores in our town have shuttered their doors after decades here.

Over the past four years since the new capital improvement sales tax has been collected, total sales tax collections have actually declined slightly. All the while total city operating expenses have grown about 8%. This is an unsustainable trend. Over the last 15 years, taxable sales have increased a total of 11.2%. Inflation has increased 31.4% in that same time period.

In spite of new home construction, manufacturing job growth, new hotels and other development in the community, our revenue over the past four years has gone from flat to a slight decline. Simply put, the operating cost of buying tires, fixing streets and providing critical services increases slightly every year. With declining revenue this trend is not sustainable.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said on a recent visit to Southeast Missouri that those who sell products on the internet should not be allowed a competitive advantage over Missouri’s “brick and mortar” stores. “I believe that, regardless of where they come from, they ought to be on the same playing field,” he said.

The Sikeston Regional Chamber of Commerce and its members have been out informing their members, other merchants, civic groups, educators and businesses of the importance of passing this referendum.

It is incumbent upon us to modernize our revenue collection method. We are not asking to increase our rate, but are simply asking to collect taxes on items we have traditionally been able to tax.

This is important for Sikeston’s future. Please vote yes on Nov. 5.

Steven H. Burch,

Mayor of Sikeston