Be a well informed voter

Thursday, March 22, 2007

April elections have a way of sneaking up on voters, so we want to be sure to remind our readers that the April 3 election is now less than two weeks away. This week and next, the Cassville Democrat is publishing the ballots, so we urge all interested citizens to review the issues and candidates that will appear on the April 3 ballot in advance of voting.

April elections are very grassroots in nature as citizens cast votes for city council, school board and village board members as well as road district commissioners. Southwest and Purdy school board races are contested as are city races in Cassville, Exeter, Seligman and Wheaton.

In addition, Purdy, Wheaton and Exeter school districts have placed bond issues on the April ballot that will determine the districts' ability to provide additional space for their students in coming years. We know that all three districts have held public meetings to promote their issues and provided opportunities for citizens to become involved and informed about the planning process. It's important that district patrons know the facts for themselves before casting their vote on these important issues. All too often, voters depend on the opinion of their neighbor rather than finding out the facts for themselves. Misinformation often leads to the defeat of election issues. It's your right to question any and every ballot proposal but make sure your source for answers is credible and armed with facts about the issue at hand.

Voters living in the Exeter area will have the opportunity on April 3 to vote on the formation of a tax-supported fire protection district. If approved, the local fire department would follow the path taken by the Cassville, Butterfield, Shell Knob and Eagle Rock-Golden-Mano departments who received voter approval to levy a property tax to support fire protection in those areas. Tax revenues are used to keep firefighters well equipped and usually produce a better ISO rating, which in turn means lower insurance premiums.

The City of Butterfield will be asking voters to approve a 50-cent tax levy increase to provide more funding for streets, and Barry County is seeking voter approval of an out-of-state use tax. In the case of the use tax, county officials are promoting the issue as a way to level the playing field between Barry County merchants who must pay taxes and out-of-state vendors who sell goods tax free. The tax is not a new tax but a reinstatement of a tax that was in place from 1993 to 1995. Average citizens will be affected very little by the use tax, because it is only applied to out-of-state purchases exceeding $2,000 in one year. This tax already exists in 34 Missouri counties, including Lawrence and Stone.

All of these issues, as well as school and city races, will be covered in depth in next week's issue of the Cassville Democrat. In the meantime, familiarize yourselves with all the ballot issues, as they appear on pages 12 and 13 of this week's newspaper. If you do nothing else, mark April 3 on your calendar and make plans to vote. And if you plan to vote, make sure you are well informed before casting your ballot. Also, don't forget to bring your ID to the polling place so you will be allowed to vote when you get there.