Use tax fails to get traction in Boone County and Columbia

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COLUMBIA - The next time you think your vote doesn't matter, just think back to the use tax.

A little more than 100 votes was the difference between an additional two percent tax in Columbia on goods shipped from out of state, which applies mainly to online purchases.

The margin was a bit larger in Boone County, where the measure was defeated 55-45. Northern County Commissioner Janet Thompson said the county was expecting the tax to bring in over $1 million in revenue. 

"After listening to a bunch of people.... they thought there needed to be a higher level of education," Thompson said. "What the use tax does, how it benefits our community and what the needs are."

City Councilman Michael Trapp echoed similar sentiments about a lack of education leading to the "no" vote.

"In order to get a 'yes' vote, people need to understand and feel comfortable with the measure," Trapp said. "I think it failed more because of understandability than comfortability from folks who understand what it would do and how it would work."

Thompson said, except for Audrain County, every county around Boone County has a use tax in place. 

"Some other counties have had to put it on the ballot several times before it passed," Thompson said. "Usually Boone County is leading the pack, in anything that happens in Missouri we're at the forefront, now we have to play catchup."

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to fix a misspelled word.]