Voters to decide on 'use tax' in Nixa and Ozark in April

CHRISTIAN COUNTY, Mo. Many towns in the Ozarks are seeing less money come in by way of sales tax.

That includes Ozark and Nixa. Those two growing local towns now want to get a cut of state money they're entitled to but haven't ever taken before.

That's why voters will be asked to approve a 'use tax' this April.

It's not money consumers will spend in addition to a sales tax.

It's money that the state already collects.

"Nobody's a big fan of sales tax. We're all worried about it but we don't realize how important it is," said council member Jimmy Ledbetter Jr.

Sales tax is what keeps towns like Nixa running.

Still, there seems to be a shortage of cash.

"When you see numbers like a twenty percent decrease in sales tax on certain months, you know that there's something going on," said Nixa Mayor, Brian Steele.

City leaders took a closer look at the books to find out why funds are low.

"That can be attributed directly to online sales," said Steele.

Virtual markets are making a real impact. Online sales are beginning to cripple city resources.

"There's some residents that don't buy things online. They're paying for the brunt of the services for the entire community. It becomes harder and harder to be able to afford those things like parks, like policemen and sidewalks, that residents really want when we're not getting those sales tax dollars," explained Steele.

The 1.5% 'use tax' will help to make ends meet.

"It isn't additional tax. It's just a tax on those goods you buy out of state that currently," said Steele.

If an item, bought online, is shipped from a state other than Missouri, a 'use tax' is charged. Those funds are collected by the state. However, Nixa and Ozark aren't getting a single penny.

"That 'aha moment' was understanding that it was already been taken and we weren't getting that funding," said council member Matt Barker.

It's why having a use tax ordinance on the books will help ensure Nixa and Ozark's future.

"I would really like to see the money I'm paying come back to my area," said Ledbetter.

More than 100 other cities in Missouri have already passed a use tax to collect money from out of state vendors at the same rate as local businesses.

Nixa and Ozark voters will be asked to make their decision in April.