An educational forum about the use tax was held March 13 in the J.W. Jones Student Union Ballroom.
The use tax was rejected by voters on the November ballot with a 55 to 45 percent vote. The tax will be making a comeback on the April 2 ballot.
If passed, the tax would put a 2.375 percent tax on online purchases. Portions of the money received from the use tax would be put toward road maintenance and eventually road improvement.
One important piece of information that City Manager Greg McDanel said what should be remembered is the relation between the use tax and the Maryville sales tax.
“(The use tax) is not a double tax, one or the other,” McDanel said. “It is always the same rate as the sales tax, so if this community says ‘We are not going to support a local sales tax initiative anymore; we are going to let that sunset and go off the books’ so the local sales tax rate decreases, the use tax automatically decreases, if we add to that, it automatically adds.”
Toward the end of the presentation, McDanel addressed the students and said that student involvement in community activities and voting is of high importance.
“You are a citizen of Maryville,” McDanel said. “You can volunteer, you can come to city council meetings, you can get engaged, you are a citizen of this community, and with that, you can vote here on local issues.”
One example McDanel gave of the importance of student involvement was a project that passed due to only five votes in its favor, McDanel said these five votes were likely made by Northwest students.
The project mentioned was the conference center at Mozingo Lake. The old clubhouse was renovated to be bigger and include more amenities, becoming the conference center it is now.
After the main section of the presentation was finished, McDanel opened the forum up for questions from the audience. One audience member asked McDanel about road maintenance, where the money came from and how the use tax would affect these.
“On a winter like this year, we spend $100,000 on potholes in January and February,” McDanel said. “The use tax will provide additional support to those and recapture that revenue that is already leaving, those funding sources going to online sales and out-of-state sources.”
After the forum, junior Keegan Dolinar said he felt the use tax was a good idea and had his vote.
“I think it is going to do really good things for the community, and I am really glad I can be a part of this to help out,” Dolinar said.
Freshman Cooper Finnicum also shared his opinion about the tax.
“I think (the use tax) could be really beneficial to the people,” Finnicum said. “I mean, coming from my perspective, it obviously will not do anything that major for me because I will only be here for like three more years, but for the city, it will probably do a lot.”
Finnicum also said he felt students could make a difference in city politics.
“Considering that students here are a huge demographic, I do not feel like enough students actually vote for it to be effective,” Finnicum said. “If all college students did vote, then yeah, it would be a huge change. I mean, what is it, there is like 7,000 kids on campus.”