THAYER -- Representing the Thayer Community Betterment Association and the Thayer Chamber of Commerce, Thayer businessman Ron Cornelius approached the Thayer City Council at their Aug. 9 meeting regarding placing a half-cent sales tax on the November election ballot .
The Thayer Council voted unanimously to place the issue on the ballot.
Cornelius, who has been involved in recent years with the economic growth of the city, told the council that if the issue passes, the money will be used for hiring an economic developer for the city. In the past Thayer has shared an economic developer with all the cities in the county and the county itself.
The city currently has a 1-cent sales tax in use in the city that has been in effect since 1982. This tax generated $353,075 in 2004. If the half-cent issue passes it will generate approximately $175,000 a year to be used not only to pay an economic developer but for other needs in the city.
In the city of Thayer if a resident or tourist spends $1 they will pay a 6-cent tax. On a purchase of $100 they pay $6.23 in taxes. If the issue passes the tax on $1 will jump to 7 cents. On a $100 purchase the tax would be $6.73, an addition of 50 cents.
"If a town does not grow and maintain it will go down hill," Cornelius said after the meeting. "We are not looking for major employers but various employers and small businesses. We want to keep our young people from having to leave here."
Cornelius said besides paying the economic developer's salary, the remaining funds could be used for building a spec building in the Thayer Industrial Park that might help stir some interest in a business moving to Thayer. He said in the last five years the city, the chamber and the Thayer Community Betterment Association have worked together to accomplish a lot, including dramatically improving water pressure in and around the industrial park.
The economic developer position was first created and paid for by a grant the city of Thayer received from the Rural Economic Assistance Program in 1999.
In 2001 the position became a county job, with Thayer and Alton funding the position and all three reaping the benefits.
Presiding Commissioner Leo Warren said the only reason the county ever became involved in helping fund the economic developer position was to help the cities in the county.
Since the resignation of Oregon County Economic Developer Edd Hatten last year the county has sought someone for the position.
"We have advertised for an economic developer and have reviewed several applications, but none of them worked out," Warren said. "Most counties of our size in the area do not have an economic developer, the city does."
West Plains does have an economic developer, but Howell County does not.