The proposed tax increase is one-fourth of one percent or $0.25 per $100 spent.
Tomorrow, voters living within the city limits of Chillicothe will vote on a variety of issues on the ballot during the Municipal Election, including a proposed sales tax increase to benefit the Chillicothe Police Department. The proposed tax increase is one-fourth of one percent or $0.25 per $100 spent.
"We are not asking the citizens to pay an additional tax out of their pockets; it is a sales tax that will be paid by anyone who shops in Chillicothe, " Chillicothe Police Chief Jon Maples said. "You spend $100 at Wal-Mart, the tax will be an additional .25, which would go to law enforcement."
Maples said the need for additional funding is vital to continue to have an effective and well-maintained department. "In order for us to serve the community to the best of our abilities, we need access to the most effective training available and the most cost-effective tools for completing the tasks before us.”
City Administrator Darin Chappell pointed out that even if the proposed .25 sales tax increase were to pass, Chillicothe would still have a lower tax rate then neighboring towns. ”Our sales tax rate will still be lower than any full-service city - with police and fire departments - in northwest Missouri.” Chappell said.
The current sales tax rate in Chillicothe is 7.725%, with the additional .25 it would become 7.975%. Currently the tax rate in Cameron is 8.225%; Hamilton has a sales tax rate of 8.752%; Trenton is 8.35%; Brookfield 8.475%.
This increase is the first time in 17 years city officials have asked voters for an increase, something that is unheard of Chappell said. He also noted that most sales tax revenues are not paid by citizens living in the city.
“When it is taken into consideration that, roughly half of all sales taxes are collected from those living outside of the city limits, this revenue source provides the biggest return on investment for Chillicothe’s citizens,” Chappell said.
The tax would bring about $420,000 - $430,000 in an average year.
Those funds would go to a variety of needs within the police department, and can only be used for police department needs.
To continue to provide the best safety for the community, Maples said there is an ongoing need for at least $12,000 annually for training along with ensuring officers have the best personal protection and tools. Capital Improvements to the department's fleet of vehicles needs to be placed on a rotation so new vehicles can be brought in on a rotating basis.
“By establishing a purchase schedule for vehicles on a rotational basis, we ensure those police vehicles are continuously in proper functioning order and are always ready to respond to the calls of the day,” Maples said. To purchase two, new, fully-equipped vehicles and retire the two oldest vehicles each year, it would cost approximately $100,000 a year.
Maples also noted every five years officers need to have a new set of gear, armor and vests. Every 10 years computer and radio equipment need to be replaced, all of this costs $55,330 a year.
“These are not extravagances, these items are basic tools needed to perform policing in the 21st Century,” he said.
In August 2017, two Chillicothe police officers were confronted by an armed man when they attempted to serve an arrest warrant. An hours-long standoff ensued, and Maples has said there was a very clear need, during that incident, that the department’s radio equipment needed to be upgraded. Later the city council approved a purchase of a $300,000 system. The passage of this tax, Maples said will help the department keep their equipment upgraded, without asking the city for additional funds. The revenue from sales tax will also go to training, maintaining police services, recruitment and retainment of officers along with improving/maintaining police facilities. In the last year, the number of calls averaged by the department each day has risen by over 100. The types of calls are also becoming more volatile. Maples said the nature of some of the crimes is changing, and he feels that is in direct correlation to the efforts made by officers to get into the community. "They trust us, they know we want what is best for them, and we are working hard to get their issue handled," Maples said. "These crimes have always been going on in Chillicothe; we are just hearing about it more."
Since Maples became police chief in November 2017, the department has secured more than $150,000 in grants to aid in the purchase of gear, uniforms and equipment for the department.