Mo. County Approves Anti-Adult Tax

MOUNT VERNON, Mo. — A measure to levy a 10 percent tax on adult businesses was approved Tuesday by Lawrence County voters, according to The Joplin Globe.

Put before voters by the county commission in the hopes it will deter a strip club that's been battling nearby Jasper County from moving camp to Lawrence, the new tax received an overwhelming approval margin of 69 percent. According to the final tally, there were 2,220 "yes" votes for the measure to 996 "no" votes.

Of 23,085 registered voters in the county, 3,436, or 14.9 percent, participated in Tuesday's election. Of those who did, 220 did not cast a vote on the new tax.

The tax is to be drawn against an establishment's gross receipts, and can be levied for no longer than four years before requiring a renewal vote. Funds generated are to go toward investigating the backgrounds of a business' employees and general law-enforcement costs for the sheriff's department. The measure goes back to voters in three years.

Prior to the election, county commissioner Rodney Barnes said that the fact this measure constitutes selective taxation does not worry the county. "We could be concerned about that, I guess," he told the Globe, "but we think we have got a statute that allows us to do it. We are trying to deter that type of business. It is selective taxation. There is no other way of putting it.

"But we did some research, and found that these businesses create a drain on the sheriff's department and the health department," Barnes noted further. "We wanted them to pay for the extra costs that this may bring to our county. That's the way of justifying a special tax on a special business."

Despite the resounding vote of approval for the tax, voters interviewed by the Globe had mixed feelings about it.

"I voted for it. I really think those places of entertainment are out of place, and I think the majority of people feel that way," said Jack George, 86. "Certain people enjoy that entertainment, but the great majority would prefer to see them out of business."

Gary Gunter, 73, offered a slightly different view. "I have been undecided on the tax," he said. "I favor free enterprise, but at the same time I'm not fond of the morals of these particular endeavors. I probably will end up being opposed to it. I'm concerned about the use of a selective tax."