It was announced today that a new committee has been organized to help ensure passage of the Pettis County Road and Bridge half cent sales tax, which is up for renewal on the April 7th ballot.

The committee, named Extend the Progress, is made up of citizens from around Pettis County and is chaired by former county commissioner and state representative Todd Smith. Treasurer for the committee is local businessman Ron Ditzfeld.

“While the issue has received overwhelming support in the past (73.36% in 2010, 77.98% in 2005) we felt that we didn’t want to take it for granted,” Smith said. “Great progress has been made all over the County and in every community, and we want to see that progress continue by extending the sales tax for another five years,” Smith added.

“So much good has been accomplished, dozens of bridges have been replaced, streets  repaired or paved, water towers, water mains repaired, storm water projects completed, even an emergency siren was purchased with these needed dollars, but there is always more which needs attention,” Smith said.

Smith noted that one unique selling feature of this proposal has been the revenue-sharing with each town, based on population. While the county’s portion is limited strictly to road and bridge projects, the cities portion doesn’t come with limits and they can dedicate their dollars to their greatest needs. Over the years the towns have spent their money on curbs, sidewalks, snow removal equipment, even an emergency generator for a water tower.

Amounts currently received by area towns are; Green Ridge - $67,800, Houstonia - $42,450, Hughesville - $26,100, LaMonte - $149,000, Sedalia – $365,400, and Smithton - $79,800.

“That is nearly three quarters of a million dollars going to our local communities, much of which comes from out-of-town shoppers. If this issue were to fail it would leave a huge hole in their budgets, with the only options to fill that gap raising property taxes which is unpopular, or foregoing these needed projects, which impacts public safety, public convenience, and possibly our economic development,” Smith said.

Smith stressed that this not a new tax, but only a five year extension of an existing tax. “Unlike other taxes, this one comes up for renewal every five years. If voters don’t see improvements, are dissatisfied with results, they can vote it down. In this case we feel our county and its communities have earned that trust and this renewal,” Smith said.

Smith also announced that as a way of informing the public and soliciting input, Town Hall forums have been scheduled in each of the communities. Dates, times and locations are;

  • March 19, 7pm – Green Ridge Chamber of Commerce
  • March 23, 5pm – Sedalia City Hall Council Chambers
  • March 24, 7pm – Pettis County Courthouse
  • March 25, 7pm – Houstonia City Hall
  • March 26, 7pm – Smithton Community Center

Other members of the committee include; Tom Durrill, former Mayor Elaine Horn, Paul Williams, former Commissioner Larry Wilson, Paul Wilburn, and Chris Burgher.

Presentations will be given to several civic groups over the next few weeks, but if any others wish to receive the presentation they can contact Todd Smith at 660-596-3385.