Clay County’s Noble Experiment May Come to Judicial End
It seems that Clay County the only county in Missouri, I think, that forgoes use of the property tax in favor of the sales tax might be forced to return to the property tax because of a judge’s decision in a lawsuit. According to this article on Missourinet (link via Combest), the county now has to return to paying for several funds it had stopped covering, and a property tax appears to be the likely method it will use to meet those demands. (I saw some TIF payments in the budget, so I am gonna guess that Clay Co. has a number of new malls, which would help explain this sales tax decision.) While at first glance it may appear that this is another case of a judge taking the Legislature’s place by ordering a tax increase, I don’t know the details of this lawsuit so I have no idea whether or not this is a good decision by the judge.
As you can see from this budget summary, sales taxes do indeed form the basis of government funding in Clay County. For you St. Louisans, Clay is very comparable to St. Charles County here. While I’m not opposed to property taxes (hell, we have three studies encouraging them, in the form of land taxes), sales taxes can also be constructed fairly and both are enormously preferable to taxes on income or "earnings."
I trust that the leaders of Clay County who, from what I have learned, have shown themselves to be good stewards of taxpayer money will come up with a solid solution to fund these additional tasks via an extremely low property tax on the people of the county. Retail sales taxes from malls + low property taxes for residents + zero earnings tax = good local tax policy for a county like Clay.