JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Voters in the capital city approved a new sales tax meant to increase pay for public safety officials on Tuesday.
Jefferson City will see a new .25 percent sales tax go toward salaries for the city’s police and fire departments beginning in April. The tax is expected to bring in about $2.8 million to be distributed between the two entities.
The tax was approved by nearly 70 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results from the Cole County clerk.
“Thank you Jefferson City for your support of our public safety!” Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin said on social media following the results.
James Noah, president of the Jefferson City Firefighters Local 671, said the increase would boost recruitment numbers and safety for the capital city and thanked voters for coming out to back the measure.
“The overwhelming support we routinely receive from the community on a day-to-day basis is amazing,” Noah told The Missouri Times. “The support for the passage of this tax will have a huge impact in ensuring a safer Jefferson City for years to come.”
Both departments reported a 24 percent retention rate last year, according to JC Citizens for Public Safety, a joint effort between the fire and police department that encouraged citizens to approve the measure. Jefferson City was the only community of its size in Missouri without a designated public safety tax, the group said.
The average salary for a Jefferson City Police Department (JCPD) officer ranges from $40,000-$61,000 while Jefferson City firefighters average between $31,000-$46,000. Both averages are below salaries for departments of a similar size in the area, according to the group.
Funds are also set to go toward equipment for police officers, including body cameras and network servers. JCPD is one of the only law enforcement agencies of its size in Missouri not to have body cameras for its officers, according to the group.
The measure was backed by several community partners, including the Jefferson Area Chamber of Commerce. President and CEO Gary Plummer said public safety was a vital component of the local economy.
“We believe public safety is second only to education when it comes to economic growth,” Plummer told The Missouri Times this week. “Looking at some of the crime statistics and trends in Jefferson City and across the state, we thought it was time for the citizens of Jefferson City to come together and try to better support our public safety capability.”
Labeled Proposition 2, the measure was the only thing on the ballot in Cole County. Only Jefferson City voters were able to vote on the tax, and the county clerk reported 14 percent of registered voters weighed in at the polls Tuesday.
Cameron Gerber studied journalism at Lincoln University. Prior to Lincoln, he earned an associate’s degree from State Fair Community College. Cameron is a native of Eldon, Missouri.
Contact Cameron at firstname.lastname@example.org.