Boone County voters to weigh tax hike for fairgrounds

The Boone County Commission signed off Tuesday on a ballot measure to raise the county's sales tax. Commissioners say they want to fund projects including renovations to the barns at the county fairgrounds.

A countywide sales tax increase will face voters this August after the Boone County Commission approved the proposal Tuesday.

The measure will ask voters to raise the county sales tax by 1/8 of a cent to pay for parks and recreation and economic development in Boone Countyâ??s smaller towns. It would also pay for upgrades and maintenance at the Central Missouri Events Center, better known as the Boone County Fairgrounds. Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller told KRCG 13 the tax would bring in $3 million a year in revenue before expiring in 2020.

Miller said economic development opportunities often come up unexpectedly and smaller towns are frequently unprepared to take advantage of them due to lack of funds. As for the fairgrounds, she said the county does not take in enough in general revenue to pay for the facilityâ??s upkeep.

â??This is an opportunity for the citizens to preserve that property and develop it in a parklike setting and still have the fairgrounds,â?? she said.

Details on what projects officials would like to pursue at the fairgrounds are scant, but officials say they would like to upgrade the agricultural buildings at the fairgrounds. They have also suggested adding as many as five baseball diamonds to the facilityâ??s current complement of three.

The proposal drew mixed reactions at the fairgrounds Tuesday evening. Ashland resident Ashleigh Robertson said the fairgrounds are needed to preserve the areaâ??s agricultural heritage. She said she felt a 1/8-cent sales tax increase was something most residents could afford. On the other hand, Buck Smith said he wanted to see a more detailed project plan for the fairgrounds.

â??Youâ??ve got to be able to lay out a plan to tell what theyâ??re going to do with it and how much theyâ??re going to do it with,â?? he said.

The next election is scheduled for Aug. 5. Boone County voters will face at least two sales tax questions that day, the other being a statewide measure to raise the sales tax by ¾ of a cent for transportation projects.