Miller County voters to consider tax increase to bolster law enforcement

Dan Field
newsroom@lakesunonline.com
Miller County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Louie Gregoire wants to make Miller County a safer place to live and work.

His plan is to add more road deputies to the Sheriff’s Department and increase patrols for the county’s 25,000-plus residents and thousands more who visit Miller County during the summer season. He also wants to improve the livelihood of his officers and their families by increasing their pay.

But to do that he needs the support of Miller County voters April 6 when they consider a 3/8th of a percent increase in the countywide sales tax. While the total sales tax that consumers pay varies from one taxing district to another, the portion that is collected for Miller County is 1 percent.

“My plan in the next couple of years is to add more – at least 4 – road deputies and to bring their pay up,” Sheriff Gregoire explained.

The ballot issue reads as follows:

Shall Miller County, Missouri, impose a countywide sales tax at a rate of three- eighths of one percent (3/8 of 1%) for the purpose of providing law enforcement services for the County, including without limitation, providing funds for law enforcement operating expenses and capital improvement projects for law enforcement facilities, such tax to be imposed for a period not to exceed twenty (20) years from its effective date?

Financials

The Sheriff Department’s current budget is roughly $850,000 which goes mostly for salaries and overhead. If voters approve the sales tax increase, the additional 3/8 of 1 percent will bring in an estimated $1.4 million each year.

“What we’re getting from the general revenue fund isn’t enough,” Sheriff Gregoire offered

The starting salary of a Miller County deputy is $24,950. A grant boosts that total to around $30,000 per officer. The problem, Sheriff Gregoire says, is that Miller County deputies trail far behind other area county deputies by about $6,000 a year.

“We’re way behind the other counties,” the sheriff said.

That makes it difficult to attract and retain officers.

In addition to boosting deputies’ salaries, the additional revenue would be used for training and vehicles.

When to vote

Polls will be open from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday, April 6. If you aren’t sure where to vote, contact the Miller County Clerk’s Office at 573-369-1905.