To extend or not to extend the Cape Fire Tax? Voters decide Nov. 4

To extend or not to extend the Cape Fire Tax? Voters decide Nov. 4

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - People and committees on both sides of Cape Girardeau's fire tax extension are trying to make their case to voters.

At issue: Whether or not to extend a sales tax passed in 2004. Right now, the sales tax costs you 25 cents on every $100 you spend.

You might notice people wearing buttons or handing out flyers, but you won't see a a lot of manufactured signs on this issue because both sides agree that wasn't the best way to reach voters.

Instead supporters and opponents are reaching out to the community with face-to-face meetings, email, and phone calls.

Part of the tax you pay now is permanent, but half is currently set to expire at the end of 2014.

If you vote 'yes,' you're not agreeing to pay more. A 'yes' majority would sign off on a tax extension of the full current amount for 21 years, until 2035. The community would continue to pay the current amount.

Voting "no" takes that down to the already permanent 12.5 cent: one eighth of one percent.

"Yes" would bring in an estimated $2.4 million a year for the department. If the tax is shot down, that cuts the sum in half to $1.4 million.

Kevin Greaser is on a committee to extend the tax.

"It's about doing what we have to do to keep our community, our children, and our family's safe," said Greaser.

He says research shows the money is needed for essential upgrades keeping facilities, equipment and trucks replaced if necessary, upgraded, and up-to-date all around. He says the city did what it promised to do with the funds in 2004. He says the funds are necessary continue at the current rate to make sure the department is able to respond in the event of a catastrophe."

"Our city's population swells during the day," Greaser said. "It's essential. It's about protecting Cape and keeping our departments progressive and well-equipped They do so much to support this community."

Greaser says some facilities may need to be replaced to keep up with the population and needs and sometimes vehicles may be needed to provide critical services in certain growing areas of town. 

"Half of the money goes to replace facilities, half to replace equipment," said Greaser. "Imagine if you have an emergency at your own home or if you have a fire? When you think about all those firefighters are trained to do it is an awesome job with amazing responsibility."

He says members of the committee to extend the tax and firefighters will be calling people and continuing to take questions and hold meetings through next week.

However, Linda Reutzel who opposes the tax has a completely different opinion. She prepared presentations because she feels voters were misled in 2004. She says she's all for public safety, but the $1.2 million that would continue to be provided if the tax expires and the rate of the sales tax dropping down to 12 cents per $100 would be plenty.

"We are supporting our fire department," said Reutzel. "This is about our city officials telling the truth. We can take a stand and still provide for our community."

She says current figures of the department budgets show that to be the case. Meanwhile, she says Cape's population is not shown or projected to grow, and therefore voting 'no' is about taking a stand, yet still supporting public safety.

"Again our budgets have grown. Those are the numbers people need to look at the $1.2 million that will continue to come in will be an added bonus," said Reutzel.

To learn more on the tax, and how supporters and opponents feel about the issue go to: 

Information on support of the tax

Information in opposition of the tax

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