Proposition C.O.P.S. added to April ballot

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The Perry County Commission unanimously approved an order Monday afternoon to place a referendum question on the April 2021 ballot, asking whether or not county residents want to impose a capital improvements sales tax of half of 1 percent for 20 years to fund a new joint justice center.

After 20 years from the date the tax is first imposed, it would continue at one-eighth of 1 percent (0.00125) "thereafter for the purpose of providing funding for construction and maintaining and paying related expenses for a County Justice Center in Perry County, Missouri."

The sales tax in the city of Perryville, excluding the Perry Plaza Capital Improvement District, now stands at 7.975 percent while purchases made outside city limits are at 6.1 percent. If approved, it would increase the sales tax rate in Perryville to 8.475 percent and 6.6 percent for all other parts of the county.

All of the funds would be used for the building, construction and maintenance of the proposed justice facility.

Collection of any referendum has to wait until a full quarter after the measure is approved by voters, Kutz said.

If adopted, the county wouldn't see any revenue from the measure until October 2021, Kutz said.

The proposed budget for a joint justice center is between $15 to $17 million, according to Kutz.

The acronym in Proposition C.O.P.S. stands for Courts Operations, Police Department and Sheriff Department, according to Perry County Clerk Jared Kutz. Operations in the facility would include 911 dispatch and other functions of emergency management and law enforcement.

The county has been consulting with architects and contracted with a financial advisor who won't receive any compensation unless the referendum is approved.

Even with a sales tax increase, Kutz said Perry County's rate would still fall below other nearby counties.

At this time, the sales tax rate in Perry County for purchases made outside of Perryville is 6.1 percent. In the Perryville city limits, the tax rate is 7.975 percent.

By comparison, the sales tax rates in nearby counties are: Cape Girardeau (outside of the City of Cape Girardeau and City of Jackson and other special taxing districts), 5.7250 percent; Bollinger County, 5.85 percent; Ste. Genevieve, 9.2250 percent; St. Francois, 9.11 percent.

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