Mar 03

A Message from the County Executive: About the Marijuana Sales Tax Proposal

Posted on March 3, 2023 at 10:03 AM by County Executive

The St. Charles County Council approved putting a 3 percent marijuana sales tax authorized in the adult use “recreational” amendment to the Missouri Constitution on the April 4 ballot, leaving it up to voters to decide whether the County will collect this revenue from the sale of recreational marijuana. The industry suggested passage of recreational marijuana would save money for law enforcement prosecution and courts. Medical marijuana will remain exempt from such local taxation.

While there has not been much enforcement with marijuana, especially since medical marijuana is so easily purchased, it is possible that jurisdictions will expend more resources regulating and protecting the legal dispensaries. As written, the amendment allows residents to approve a tax.  

When the proponents of recreational marijuana were trying to convince voters to approve it, I never heard any of them say the State of Missouri would be better off if more citizens smoke marijuana. What they said was that a lot of Missourians were smoking marijuana already and, unlike the rest of us when we drink a Budweiser, a fine Missouri wine, or a shot of Jack Daniels, they are paying no tax.

Consumers currently pay taxes on beer, wine, and liquor as they do other consumer goods. Missouri’s general sales tax is 4.225 percent; St. Charles County’s is 1.725 percent. These two taxes, in conjunction with those from other municipalities, can range from 6.95 percent to 10.45 percent. Missouri’s tax on retail recreational marijuana sales is 6 percent.

Additionally, the State of Missouri levies an excise tax on manufacturers, wholesalers, and solicitors of alcohol: beer, $0.06 per gallon; wine, $0.42 per gallon; and liquor, $2 per gallon. Federal alcohol excise taxes are levied on brewers/distillers: beer, $18 per 31-gallon barrel, or $0.05 per 12-oz can; wine, $1.07-$3.40 per gallon, or $0.21-$0.67 per 750ml bottle, depending on alcohol content; and liquor, $13.50 per proof-gallon, or $2.14 per 750ml 80-proof bottle.

If voters approve the tax for St. Charles County, in accordance with the Missouri Constitution, it will be effective countywide. Other municipalities have similar ballot proposals. Purchases would be subject to taxes from each political subdivision in which they are sold.

Feb 02

A Message from the County Executive: Advancing DNA Technology Solving More Crimes

Posted on February 2, 2023 at 1:44 PM by County Executive

In the coming months, the St. Charles County Police Department Criminalistics Laboratory will add another resource to its toolkit in solving crimes in the area, specifically enhancing the reliability and validity of complex DNA samples. 

A new DNA analysis software, called ArmedXpert™, will allow the Crime Lab to more efficiently and effectively identify DNA profiles that involve multiple contributors. While the Lab’s accredited DNA analysis staff can do this now, the software assesses the DNA components much faster and even more accurately than by human review. I talked with Crime Lab Director Bryan Hampton to understand what this means for our police department and for St. Charles County as a whole.

He told me the software conducts a deconvolution process; it takes information from complex DNA mixtures and parses it out to organize the sample into identifiable profiles at a much higher speed than we can currently. It allows us to extract more information from the data, and garner more usable profiles from complex samples that have multiple contributors, or subjects.

Bryan says this technology will play an important role in cases such as burglaries, stolen vehicles and even homicides.

When there is a mixture of DNA in a sample, Bryan said it is a tedious process to analyze and accurately glean a usable profile to identify which DNA belongs to which individual. The Crime Lab has the capability to do that already, but the complexity and length of time of the process is greatly reduced with this software—from hours down to minutes.

Why does this matter for a St. Charles County resident? This means our Crime Lab can process more forensic evidence, more efficiently. With a workload of more than 2,500 cases each year, there is no shortage of evidence to examine and analyze. Any link from evidence to existing data, or addition of new data, helps cut down the time it takes to charge and prosecute suspects, and fairly and expeditiously aid the judicial process.

Regionally, DNA profiles, fingerprints and ballistic evidence uploaded by the department to investigative databases have provided links between cases. In 2022 alone, 162 DNA profiles uploaded by the Lab to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database “hit” to prior offenders, arrestees, and crime scene samples from across the country. This valuable information has an impact on current cases, but also has helped solve cold cases, such as the 1993 kidnapping and murder of Angie Housman, the 1984 murder of Eleonora Knoernschild, and the 1990-1991 “package killer” murders of five women.

Bryan says this new software will potentially allow the Lab to upload more DNA profiles into CODIS that otherwise may not be eligible. With that, there could be more database hits and the department could make more contributions to solving crime regionally as well as nationally.

While we take pride in keeping our county safe, it’s no secret that crime has impacted our region, and criminals hold no regard for jurisdictional boundaries when committing a criminal act or attempting to flee. We should all be proud of the work of our Crime Lab and how valuable it is in assisting in fighting crime. It is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) National Accreditation Board (ANAB) and has been continuously since 2007. The Lab is staffed by six full-time scientists, a part-time firearm examiner and a part-time evidence clerk with nearly 120 years of combined forensic science experience.

Jan 03

A Message from the County Executive: Launching Emergency Vehicle Preemption

Posted on January 3, 2023 at 4:26 PM by County Executive

As the new year begins, County government is completing a project that allows first responders to reach their destinations in less time while improving safety for them and everyone on our roads. You may have heard of the program – Emergency Vehicle Preemption (EVP) – but what you may not know is that St. Charles County is one of the leaders in the use of this technology. The program is the largest cloud preemption deployment in Missouri and the central United States. 

EVP provides “green light priority” to approaching emergency vehicles. The system reduces emergency vehicle travel times during those critical moments when every second counts. The project includes upgrades to 351 signals throughout the county, 65 fire and rescue trucks, 60 ambulances and 75 County police vehicles.
 Prior to this project, municipalities and fire districts were deploying various types of pre-emption equipment. Often, this equipment wasn’t compatible and didn’t work for agencies that provided countywide services or for agencies responding to emergencies outside of their service area.
 Without the tremendous collaboration between agencies from public safety, public works, St. Charles County, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and our vendor, Global Traffic Technology, this project would not have been possible. Working closely with our partners, the intersections could be configured in a fully remote environment. Historically, on-site installations can be done at a rate of two intersections per day, but with this advanced technology deployment, they were configured at a rate of 30 per day (15 times faster). This quick turnaround resulted in a labor cost savings of approximately 75 percent.

The cost of the project was $809,000, including three years of monitoring and maintenance. Eighty percent was funded with Federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality dollars. The remaining 20 percent was funded by St. Charles County’s voter-approved, ½-cent Transportation Sales Tax, which is administered by the St. Charles County Road Board.

My thanks to everyone who worked to make this project possible. This is definitely money well-spent to save lives.