The ad hoc advisory committee tasked with educating voters on the proposed .5 percent sales tax for Lawrence County released a pair of documents this week in an effort to clarify the details of the proposed charter.
The committee, put together by the Lawrence County commission, includes Aaron Seigrist (chairman), David Eden, David Hubert, Brad DeLay, Rick Richardson, Shane Anderson, James Smith, Kris Bowling, Bonnie Witt-Schulte, Glo Maloney-Abramovitz, Jim Carson, Nathan Schnake, Jay Quoka, Art Mattlage and Joseph Heck. Spokespersons for the group are Art Mattlage, who may be reached at 236-3340 and Bowling, who is available at 229-5013.
In addition to the official charter language, the committee released the following list of key points related to the proposal:E9-1-1 and dispatching services for Lawrence County are currently funded through a fee on landlines with shortfalls being funded from general revenues from the county and local municipalities. Landline tariffs have decreased from $219.695 in 2016 to $181,699 in 2018. If the 911 sales tax passes, the current landline fee will no longer be collected and the cost of 911 will no longer be placed only upon those citizens who have landline phones, but will include any person who purchases goods and services within Lawrence County to include those traveling through the county. If the 911 sales tax passes, funds will be utilized to build a consolidated 911 dispatching center in Lawrence County. Until such time that a new building can be built, funds collected will be utilized to continue current dispatching services in Aurora and Monett to ensure the continuity of dispatching of first responders and processing of 911 and non-emergency calls. Upon passage of the 911 sales tax, a seven-member board will be appointed by the Lawrence County Commission. This board, per statute, must be appointed from the following with no more than four members from each district of the county commission: Fire protection agencies (one eastern district representative and one western district representative) Ambulance district Sheriff’s office Municipalities/citizen at large (one eastern district representative and one western district representative) Any other emergency management (EMA) organization The entities/agencies/districts listed above should develop a means to come to a consensus to provide proposed designees to represent the members designated to serve on the board. Per state statue (RSMO 190.335 (8)), at the time of appointment of the initial seven-member board the county commission shall relinquish the establishment and administration of central dispatching of emergency services to the 911 Emergency Services Board. The 911 Emergency Services Board will be directly responsible for developing and overseeing 911 revenues for Lawrence County. Passage of the proposed 911 sales tax would reduce the current burden on local municipalities as they are continuing to subsidize the dispatching services from general funds. If the 911 sales tax does not pass, dispatching fees will increase to cover deficit spending, resulting in in communities and emergency service agencies such as law enforcement, ambulance and fire districts evaluating budgets and cutting resources such as personnel and equipment in order to be able to allocate funds to ensure continuity of emergency dispatching and 911 service.
Another meeting and educational opportunity before the election is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Monday at Verona city hall. The proposal will go to the voters on April 2.