Phelps County | St. Louis Public Radio

Phelps County

A flyer encouraging voters to approve the use tax in Phelps County and the City of Rolla. 10/24/19
File photo | Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

ROLLA — Voters in Phelps County were inconsistent Tuesday in their approach to authorizing local government to collect sales taxes on online purchases. 

Phelps County rejected the tax, while its two biggest cities, Rolla and St. James, approved it.

A flyer encouraging voters to approve the use tax in Phelps County and the City of Rolla. 10/24/19
File photo | Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

ROLLA — Phelps County and its two largest cities have only one question on the ballot Nov. 5 — whether to start collecting a tax for online sales known as a use tax.

Phelps County, along with Rolla and St. James, are reporting sales tax revenue that is lagging behind expenses. They all place the blame on consumers increasingly moving toward online shopping, where there isn’t any sales tax paid. 

Holly Bickmeyer and cattle on the small farm she manages. She wants control over large livestock operations to stay local. Sept 9., 2019
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Holly Bickmeyer is worried about what a large livestock operation would do if it moves in next door. 

She points to the small lake in front of her house on the 20-head cattle farm she operates in Maries County.

“Sinkholes open up all the time,” Bickmeyer said. “You see the lake that’s in my front yard here? If somebody builds a hog operation at the end of my driveway, I would be concerned about that waste getting into the groundwater and I walk out one day and all my bass are dead.”

Bickmeyer said that’s why she wants her local county commissioners to decide if concentrated animal feeding operations, also known as CAFOs, can locate nearby. 

The Phelps County Sheriff's Department has built a new jail in Rolla, Missouri, at least partially paid for with money seized through a civil asset forfeiture program.
Brian Muñoz

This story is part of a collaborative-reporting initiative supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. All stories can be found here: https://taken.pulitzercenter.org/

A newly renovated red-brick jail is nearing completion. Low-milage squad cars patrol the roads. A new high-tech courtroom makes it easier to guard prisoners. Outside the courtroom are exercise equipment and a shoot, no-shoot training facility for officers.

Sgt. Carmelo Crivello of the Phelps County Sheriff's Department shows a gas tank that had been customized to hide cash.
Brian Muñoz

This story is part of a collaborative-reporting initiative supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. All stories can be found here: https://taken.pulitzercenter.org/

Sgt. Carmelo Crivello of the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department is a legend on the stretch of Highway 44 near Rolla, Missouri.

Missouri police have spent money acquired through civil asset forfeiture on expenses including renovated jails, new police cars, exercise equipment, courtrooms, military equipment and helicopter equipment.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

This story is part of a collaborative-reporting initiative supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. All stories can be found here: https://taken.pulitzercenter.org/

In the past two decades, the federal government took in $36.5 billion in assets police seized from people on America’s roads and in its poorer neighborhoods, many of whom never were charged with a crime or shown to have drugs.