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COUNCIL MEETING 01/13/2020 (Pet Ordinances, Tax Increase, Main Street Event)

By Angie Talken, C-T

Chillicothe City Council members heard from a citizen concerned about pet ordinances, approved another downtown event, and agreed to vote on the language for a sales tax increase. At 6:30 p.m., on January 27, 2020, in the council chambers at city hall, the council will, among other business, consider an ordinance calling for a special election to be held concurrently with the municipal election on Tuesday, April 7, to propose a 1/4 of 1% general sales tax increase to support the police department.

Darin Chappell, city administrator, said that the council plans to approve the official language for the sales tax at the next council meeting. The proposed tax increase would be about 1/4th of 1% or 25 cents on every $100 spent. Chappell said it is important for voters to realize the tax increase is a sales tax increase. "Most of the sales tax collected comes from people passing through Chillicothe," he said. "This would give taxpayers the most bang for their buck. It is a sales tax collected and not a tax on personal property. Everyone would pay the same amount of tax increase, including those visiting Chillicothe." The funds raised from this tax would benefit law enforcement exclusively and would be used for training, facility enhancement, officer retention and equipment. The last time Chillicothe voters were asked to pass a tax for city services was 17 years ago when voters approved the operational sales tax increase for the fire department. That increase has allowed the department to purchase equipment, training and allowed them to "professionalize its members and equipment in the way it has due to the tax," Chappell added. A new ladder truck also purchased with the funds will be ready for service in the coming months. "The fact that the city has not asked residents for any kind of tax increase shows that the city is living within its means and city leaders are good stewards of the citizen's money," Chappell noted. There will be opportunities for residents to be educated about the needs of the police department just to make community members aware of rising costs and needs for a growing department. Previously, Police Chief Jon Maples told the council that the average number of calls the department receives on a daily basis has increased to as many as 100 calls each day in a week. The types of calls and cases have also changed, and many involve in-depth investigations, narcotics, and crimes against children. If approved by the council, the language for the ballot item will read, Shall the City of Chillicothe, Missouri, be authorized to increase its general sales tax by one-quarter of one percent (1/4 of 1%), to be used to acquire and/or improve police facilities, acquire police equipment, maintain police services, and recruit, train and retain police officers?

A craft beer event in downtown Chillicothe received the approval of the Chillicothe City Council for the second year in a row. The event, "Drop of Dublin Downtown" sponsored by Main Street Chillicothe, will be held along Webster Street on March 20.

During the public comment portion of the council meeting, Lisa McBee Eckart, Chillicothe, talked to the council about pet ordinances, and especially about those pertaining to pit bulls. Chappell said as a result of this discussion, City Clerk Roze Frampton is working with other volunteers to begin a committee to examine the ordinances since some of them, he noted, are more than 100 years old. Eckart's concern was related to ordinances related to pit bulls; and Chappell admitted those can be hard to enforce as breeds vary. He noted the committee will be examining all animal ordinances, not just those relating to pit bulls. He believed the committee would soon be established and begin work soon.

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