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Cape Girardeau Voters To Consider Fire Tax Extension

Jacob McCleland

Cape Girardeau voters will have a chance to extend a 1/8 cent portion of a quarter-cent sales fire tax when they head to the ballot box on Nov. 4. The tax has been used to fund improvements at Cape Girardeau’s fire department facilities and for the purchase of new vehicles and equipment.

The tax was first passed in 2004.

A “Yes” vote will extend the tax to 2035.

Cape Girardeau city councilman Wayne Bowen spoke in favor of the tax extension at a Tea Party forum on Tuesday. He said it is not a tax increase - residents will continue to pay the same rate.

“Maintaining this tax is critical in my estimation to maintain our current services,” Bowen said. “To replace outdated equipment and unusable facilities, to keep response times and capabilities consistent with saving lives and property.”

Bowen said the tax has allowed the fire department to purchase ladder trucks, breathing apparatuses and a new 911 center throughout the past 10 years.  

If the tax extension is passed, fire station four at Kurre Lane will be replaced and stations one and three will be renovated. Fire trucks will also be replaced and money will be contributed to the replacement of the police station.

“Just in case is better than ‘I wish we had,’” Bowen said. “So I would ask you to consider whether our fire department is a necessary service of local government. I think most people would agree that it is. I would ask you to consider whether it’s worth the 12 1/2 cents per $100 that this tax imposes on.”

Linda Reutzel doesn’t see it that way. At the same Tea Party forum, she argued citizens should vote against renewing the tax.

“The citizens believed elected representatives were capable of spending their hard earned tax dollars in a way that would fulfill the needs of the fire department and then be sustainable on the reduced level of taxation after 2014,” Reutzel said. “The city is telling us that they failed in that mission.”

Reutzel argued the language in the proposition is deceptive. She said the state only allows for a quarter percent sales tax for fire departments.

“Since money is fungible, the $2.4 million brought in every tax, every year, frees up money in the general fund to be spent as the council sees fit,” Reutzel said. “With the permanent portion, the general fund still gets an additional $1.2 million per year.”

Other candidates at the Tea Party forum included candidates for the Missouri 8th District Congressional seat.

Constitution party Doug Enyart presented his agenda on government spending.

“We’re pushing $18 trillion,” Enyart said. “Now nobody in this room is going to make much headway on that. Do you know who’s paying for that? Our grandchildren. Not only just our grandchildren, but our great grandchildren. The debt is so high. Bill Gates’ entire fortune would fund the government 15 days. We’ve got to stop spending.”

Democrat Barbara Stocker said the current government is not serving Southeast Missouri well.

“I want to see the economy growing because I think that is the way to bring down the debt and help people,” Stocker said.

Stocker also addressed her interest in public education and the importance of investing in the youth.

Candidates for the Cape Girardeau County Commission seat also discussed their platforms.

Democrat Pat Wissman said he would remove the tax increase that incumbent Clint Tracy has imposed.

“In just four years under Mr. Tracy, we have seen tax imposed and raised each year he has been in office.”

Tracy discussed the impact he has made in saving money in insurance premiums, adding 22 early warning signs in the area and the contributions at county parks.

The election is Nov. 4.


Jen Gradl was a student reporter at KRCU in 2014.