County races, sales tax, Medicaid head to voters

By: 
Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

Voters in Warren County will have up to two significant ballot proposals to decide on Tuesday, along with selecting the people who will represent them in county and state government.

Polls are open from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. for Missouri’s primary election is Aug. 4. The ballot will include a constitutional amendment to greatly expand Missouri’s Medicaid program.

According to the official ballot language, the Medicaid expansion would allow people ages 19 to 64, with income less than 133 percent of the federal poverty line, to join in Missouri’s Medicaid-funded health care system. The amendment also prohibits the state from placing additional restrictions on people enrolling under the expansion.

Medicaid is a system in which the state and federal government share in the cost of providing health care to qualifying participants. Estimates for how much the expansion could cost Missouri vary wildly, including the potential to actually save the state money by bringing in more federal health care dollars.

Ballot language provided by the Secretary of State’s office indicates Medicaid expansion could cost as much as $200 million per year, or save up to $1 billion per year.

Fire district sales tax

Voters within the Warrenton Fire Protection District are being asked to consider a half-cent sales tax to bolster the fire district’s struggling finances.

The sales tax would add an extra half-cent to every dollar of retail purchases, which is equivalent to 50 cents in tax per $100 of spending. Stores included in the taxing district are mostly located within the city of Warrenton.

The sales tax would also lead to a reduction in property taxes within the Warrenton Fire District. Half the amount of sales tax collected by the fire district in any year will go toward a property tax reduction the next year.

For example, if Warrenton Fire receives $800,000 in sales taxes in 2021, it must reduce its 2022 property tax rates to cut $400,000.

Fire Chief Anthony Hayeslip estimates the fire district’s portion of property taxes would drop by about one-third in 2022. Accounting for that offset, the sales tax would still increase the district’s overall income by about 33 percent.

The district is in a major financial crunch because of its growing reliance on paid, career firefighters. The district currently staffs 24/7 professional fire coverage, but its last property tax increase in 2001 was only designed to support a fraction of that staffing.

You  can read more about a debate over paid firefighters and volunteers here: https://warrencountyrecord.com/content/warrenton-fire-district-leaders-volunteers-debate-sales-tax.

Local leaders

Next week’s primary elections include leadership within the Warren County government, along with state and U.S. representatives.

Although these elections are technically primaries, most offices in Warren County have only Republicans in the running, meaning this Tuesday will be the deciding election.

A total of eight candidates are running for two seats on the Warren County Commission, the top elected body for the county government. Both seats are being vacated by current Commissioners Dan Hampson and Hubie Kluesner.

Three people — Jerry Myers, Matt Flake and Doug Nordwald — are running for the county’s Northern District seat. The five candidates competing for the Southern District seat are Tony Gagliano, Dave Mikus, Luke Struckhoff, Tom Meyer and Jason Boles.

Two candidates are vying for the role of Warren County Assessor, the office in charge of determining the value of taxable property. That office was vacated unexpectedly this summer when Wendy Nordwald resigned. Seeking to replace Nordwald are Katie Smith and Terry Bracht.

Single candidates for the county offices of sheriff, public administrator, coroner and surveyor are uncontested.

In state government, two Republicans are on the ballot to represent District 63, which includes Wright City, Innsbrook and Wentzville, in the Missouri State House of Representatives. On the other side of the county, Rep. Jeff Porter is uncontested to retain his seat in District 42, which includes Montgomery County, Warrenton and Marthasville.

There’s a livelier competition for U.S. House District 3, where incumbent Blaine Luetkemeyer is being challenged by four people for the Republican nomination.

Two people are also competing in the Democratic primary for that office.

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