When Pulaski County voters go to the polls for today's election, in addition to city council and school board elections, all voters in the county will have the opportunity to vote on a special sales tax for the Pulaski County, MO Commission/Road & Bridge Department and adopting an internet "use tax" which allows collection of county sales tax on purchases made over the internet, Voters in the cities of Richland and Dixon will also decide whether to adopt an internet sales tax for their cities, Crocker voters will decide whether to adopt a sales tax for their police department, City of Dixon, MO Municipal Government voters will decide whether to convert the elected city marshal post to an appointed rather than elected head of the Dixon MO Police Department, Laquey voters will decide whether to extend the current property tax levy with no tax increase, and the Waynesville Rural Fire Protection District will have an unusual election between three fire board candidates.
The countywide sales tax proposal is estimated to raise a total of $2.7 million from a half-cent sales tax -- one half of one percent added to qualifying purchases throughout the county for the county's road and bridge department, with a phased rollback of the current portion of county property tax dedicated for roads. If the use tax passes, people purchasing items online will pay the same amount in county tax for online purchases that is currently collected for purchases made in local stores. The state of Missouri already has a use tax on online sales, as does the City of Waynesville MO Municipal Government and the City of Saint Robert, Missouri. If similar ballot proposals proposed by the City of Richland, Missouri Municipal Government and City of Dixon, MO Municipal Government, those cities would also be able to collect taxes from online purchases made by their residents equal to what those residents would have paid if they had made their purchase at a brick-and-mortar store inside their city limits.
Law enforcement proposals placed on the ballot by Crocker City Hall and the Dixon City Council would significantly affect both the Crocker Pd and Dixon MO Police Department. The Crocker proposal would add a sales tax of one half of one percent for law enforcement purposes. The Dixon proposal would end the elected city marshal position, last held by former Marshal Gary Brankel, and replace it with an appointed chief of police. The current police chief is TJ Halle, appointed by the city council to fill that post in the absence of an elected marshal.
Laquey's ballot proposal would borrow an estimated $550,000 to "replace heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units; to repair and/or replace roofs; to repair windows;; to complete tuckpointing as needed" and complete other repair work if funds are available. The existing debt service levy in Laquey of $0.1123 in property tax per $100 of assessed valuation would remain unchanged.
While all voters in the county can vote on the countywide tax proposals, not all city councils and school boards have contested elections.
In the City of Saint Robert, Missouri, incumbent Ward I Alderman Theresa Cook faces two challengers for re-election to her two-year term, Glen Askeland and Susan Davidson. The same applies to Ward II Alderman Linda Daniels, being challenged by Jon Byrom, and Ward IV Alderman Michael Myers, being challenged by Tyler Slayton. Ward III Alderman Todd Williams is running unopposed.
In the City of Waynesville MO Municipal Government, the only contested race is in Ward III where incumbent Ed Conley faces a challenge from Richard O'Connell Viren for a two-year term; the Ward IV seat will have to be filled by a write-in candidate since nobody filed for that position. Ward I Alderman Robert Rice and Ward II Alderman Cecil Davis are running unopposed.
In the Waynesville R-VI School District, which includes both Waynesville, St. Robert, and rural areas extending east to the county line at Devil's Elbow, incumbent board members Aaron Pondrom and Charles Quinn are being challenged by David Griffin and Melissa James for their three-year terms. The top two candidates will be elected.
In addition to their bond proposal on the ballot, Laquey R-V School District voters will choose between four candidates for two terms of three years each: incumbent Michael Sadler and challengers William Jones, Peter Stone and Justin Lonergan.
In Crocker, the Crocker R-II School Board has a three-way race between incumbent Jeff Danielson and two challengers, Andrea Branstetter and Sherry Campise. The top two candidates will serve for a three-year term on the school board. Voters in the Crocker city limits have no contested races and all candidates are incumbents. Ward I Alderman Shiloh Smith and Ward II Alderman Michael Criswell are running unopposed for two-year terms on the council; Ward II Alderman Richard Heenan is running to fill the remaining one year of a term to which he was appointed to fill a vacancy when another alderman resigned.
In the Dixon R-I School District, incumbent school board members Zachary Shepherd and Doug Roam face a challenger, Derek Rollins. The top two candidates will serve three-year terms. Inside the city limits, Ward I Alderman Barb Thomas, Ward II Alderman Mary Wiles, and Ward III Alderman Trevor Warnol are all running unopposed for re-election to two-year terms.
In Richland, there are only two contested races on the city council: Ward II Alderman Carolyn Tyre faces a challenge from Dustin Roberts and Ward III Alderman Brian Mahan faces a challenge from Crystal Holloway; all are running for one-year unexpired terms since the incumbents were appointed to fill vacancies. There will be no school board race since the same number of candidates filed as are to be elected. State law allows schools to avoid the expense of elections when that happens, but city councils cannot do so. Mayor Joshua Wonder is running unopposed for the remaining year of an unexpired term to which he was appointed after the previous mayor resigned; Ward I Aldermen Mona Shaw, Ward II Alderman Mark Howlett, and Ward III Alderman Harold Needs are all running unopposed for two-year terms, and Ward I Alderman Ronda Workman Massey is running unopposed for the remaining year of a term to which she was appointed after another aldermen resigned.
The Swedeborg R-III has an unusual issue: Only one candidate filed, incumbent Jeremy Frank, but two three-year terms are open. The second position will be filled by a write-in candidate.
In the Waynesville Rural Fire Protection District, three candidates, George Dalgetty, Robert Fitzgerald, and Robert Jones, are running for two six-year terms. The top two will be elected.
On the far southern end of Pulaski County, voters in the Big Piney area who are part of the Plato R-V School District, which is mostly in Texas County but includes parts of Laclede, Wright and Pulaski counties, will select not two but three board members. The candidates for a full three-year term are Robert Murray, Eric Crews, Jody Fry and Don Rose. There's also a single candidate for the remaining two years of an unexpired term; Stacy Fletcher was the only candidate to file for the unexpired term.
Polls opened at 6 a.m. and remain open until 7 p.m. tonight.