Pierpont to decide on sales tax issue Tuesday

Friday, April 1, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:55 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Pierpont Store at Highway 163 and Route N has a history much longer than the village it serves.

Almost two centuries ago, the store was part of Boone County’s first recorded distillery and grist mill in what is now Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. In 1834, John Keiser converted it into Missouri’s first paper mill, according to the Missouri State Historical Society. But the distillery proved more profitable and brewing resumed in 1841 under the name McCanathy’s Rye Distillery.

Fire destroyed the store in 1889, prompting owner J. K. Fyber to move it and a smith shop to the top of the hill sev-eral years later. He named it “Pierpont,” a Midwesternized French translation of “Rock Bridge.”

The store has since operated at the same site and seen the surrounding community grow to nearly 30 families. This year, however, there’s a good chance the store will begin charging sales tax for the first time.

Voters in the village that incorporated only five months ago will decide on Tuesday whether Pierpont should impose a half-cent tax on sales at the store and on residents’ bills for electricity, natural gas, water, cable television and other utilities.

Justin John, chairman of the village’s five-member board of trustees, said he is optimistic voters will support the tax, but he wouldn’t guess how much money it would generate.

“There is nothing to compare with,” John said. “We don’t know how much people pay for their bills. We don’t know how much the store sells. I have no idea at all.”

Pierpont attorney Pat Cronan estimates the village needs at least $7,500 a year to operate. Major expenses will in-clude legal fees, election expenses, the cost of maintaining Tomlin Hill Road — the only road for which the village is responsible and any necessary repair work on the village’s only street lamp.

Maintaining a paved road such as Tomlin Hill costs $5,000 to $10,000 a mile per year, Boone County Public Works Director David Mink said. Pierpont is responsible for less than a mile.

“We are not anticipating a whole lot of bills,” Cronan said. “But there will be some.”

The Boone County Commission in January decided to continue providing some services to Pierpont, including fire protection and sheriff patrols, at no charge.

Pierpont leaders indicated in their original petition for incorporation last April that they would seek approval of a half-cent sales tax. Twenty-four registered voters in the village have a vote on the matter.

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