CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - The Cape Girardeau City Council on Monday unanimously passed the first reading of the extension for a sales tax that partly goes to the fire department.
The issue could be decided by voters in the August election.
If you buy something in Cape Girardeau, you are already paying a sales tax that partly goes to the fire department for things like fire gear and truck upkeep. However, in August, that tax will expire. The question to voters is whether or not to extend it.
Cape Girardeau Fire Chief Rick Ennis said keeping fire gear up-to-date is a "must."
"[This is a] breathing apparatus which truly give firefighters their breath of life inside of a burning building. By standard, this should be replaced every 15 years," Ennis said.
Ten years ago, voters agreed to a one-eighth percent sales tax.
"[It] allowed us to upgrade our apparatus, equipment and facilities," Ennis said.
Now, the question is whether or not to extend that tax.
"This eighth of a cent extension would not be any new taxes, it would be an extension of the current taxes to allow us to stay ahead of the curve with our apparatus, equipment and facilities," Ennis said.
City leaders say over the past 10 years, the tax has helped the fire department stay ahead of the game on public safety.
"I think it has been very successful in that it's matured us as a city," City Manager Scott Meyer said.
"Public safety is an important part of what we do. If you don't have a safe public, then nothing else really matters," Meyer said.
Chief Ennis said, come August, part of public safety will be up to voters.
"We have been very proactive in being able to keep our equipment updated and we would like to continue to do that so we don't fall behind as we did prior to 2004," Ennis said.
The council also talked about changes that could mean you have to pay more for some goods and services in a certain part of the city.
Another issue the council will discuss on Monday is regarding a new Community Improvement District.
The new CID board would be made up mostly of business and property owners in a section of downtown (view map here).
Meyer said once the board is established, members can decide to tax themselves by imposing a sales and property tax, but only in that area.
"The council, the city, is not endorsing a tax, they're just allowing this group, if they wish, in downtown, to tax themselves and then pay for additional services," Meyer said.
That extra money would go toward improvements in the district. There is no word yet on how much that tax would be, if and when it's put into place.
Also Monday, council members are expected to approve the last $150,000 needed to help pay for new hangars at the Cape Girardeau Regional airport.
Airport manager Bruce Loy said there are now 10 new T-hangars, which hold one plane a piece. They allow more people to use the airport and hopefully bring more people to town. Loy says contractors are putting the final touches on this week and plane owners are expected to move in within the next few weeks.
The airport now has spots for up to 38 T-hangars.
Not only did the council have money issued to mull over Monday night, there were two new members to the council.
Shelly Moore and Joe Uzoaru were welcomed to their first city council meeting. There's still one seat open and a special election will fill the Ward 3 seat. Candidates can start filing to run on Tuesday, April 22 until May 20.