Bollinger County audit leaves commissioners with dilemma

By CJ Cassidy
BOLLINGER COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Bollinger County leaders say they are worried about the future.  That's after an audit points out the county is collecting more sales tax than the state allows.
County commissioners say they can't manage without the money that comes in from the three separate sales tax levies, so they don't plan on making any changes.
Bollinger County, Missouri is home to about 13,000 people.
The streets may appear unusually empty to someone who doesn't live here but commissioners say it's a typical day for them.
"We don't have a Wal-Mart. We don't have a big sales tax base, so we just try to collect through sales tax and keep property taxes down."
The sales taxes in place brings in more than $900,000 for the county.
The problem is under Missouri law a county can only have up to a half cent sales tax.
Bollinger County has approximately 1.13 percent sales tax in place, pushing them more than 62 percent over the state limit.
"We're going to continue to collect that sales tax and we're going to go on the way we are," said Presiding Commissioner Wayne Johnson. "That's the only thing I can say right now." 
He says he did not know about the state limit when the three separate taxes were put on the ballots over several years, but he says the voters passed them and that should stand for something.
"It is the law, without it I don't think we can operate here."
Some voters agree, saying they would support any decision the commissioners make, but others disagree.
"I think the sales tax is needed in the county," resident Dave Thomas said.  "We voted on it in 2007 and I think it passed overwhelmingly.  I assume the majority of people in county feel it's needed."
"We have to obey the law, why don't they have to abide by the law?" Doris Eldridge said,
"It makes me not want to be a part of this community and this county," Shelly Kinkel said. "I want to move away."
Commissioners say a half cent sales tax would bring in about $280,000. That would be quite a big change from the $900,000 they get now.
The attorney general's office did not return a call from Heartland News.