The Paris Economic Sales Tax Board is beginning to take shape as they city builds up funds from a half-cent sales tax passed by voters in 2016 to fund economic development in Paris.

The Paris Economic Sales Tax Board is beginning to take shape as they city builds up funds from a half-cent sales tax passed by voters in 2016 to fund economic development in Paris.

Last week, based on the recommendation of the Moberly Area Economic Development Corp. (EDC), which covers Monroe, Randolph and Howard counties, the Paris Board of Aldermen approved a $2,000 contract for Cunningham, Vogel and Rost, P.C., a St. Louis area law firm with municipal expertise, to draft a working document to spell out how the board can allocate money from the tax under state law. The contract also includes a provision for at least two telephone conferences.

Corey Mehaffy, president of the Moberly Area EDC, said that the document being drafted by the law firm is needed because state law is focused on how money raised from an economic development tax may be spent. One provision of state law is that at least 20 percent of the money raised for economic development must be allocated for long-term projects.

“Statutes dictate what percentage of the tax can be spent on projects…and establishes what types of projects may be funded,” he said.

So far, the Paris Economic Development Board has held two meetings for mostly organizational purposes. It members – three appointed by the Board of Aldermen, one by the Monroe County Commission and one by the Paris School Board – are: Chuck Herron, Raymond Batsell, Courtney Jones, Dane Kendrick and Jody Hartgrove.

The city plans to primarily target the downtown area for development. During its June meeting, the board discussed the need to establish boundaries. Proposals includes extending the downtown district to include two blocks in any direction from Main Street, and possibly extending Main Street from the northern city limit line to the southern city limit sign.

The Paris Economic Development Sales Tax Board is slated to meet again this month, though at press time, an exact date had not yet been set.