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Cape businesses may tax themselves

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

Businesses in Old Town Cape could soon be taking a different approach to improving downtown by taxing themselves.

Twenty five businesses have already signed a petition saying they support the proposal.

Business owners say revenue from a self imposed tax will help keep downtown clean and make it safer.

They say they're picking up trash along the sidewalk daily, and that's hurting curb appeal.

"I clean up litter every day.  Weeds and trash," said Laurie Everett, owner of Annie Laurie's Antiques.

Everett says she likes all of the additional foot traffic brought by the Broadway Corridor Project.

But she says more people means more litter in front of her store, and the city only cleans it once a week.

So businesses along most of Main Street and Broadway from the river to Park Street may create a community improvement district and tax themselves to pay for daily clean up of litter and increased security.

"Businesses are starting to take pride in their properties and it's been a snowball effect," Everett said. "You're seeing a lot of different properties that are painting, doing landscaping, and it just keeps getting better and better."

The proposal is still in the early stages.

More than half of the business owners in the district would have to agree to the .6708% property tax increase as well as a .5% sales tax increase before it's put in front of voters in the sixty or so homes in the district for final approval. 

That's something committee chairman Jim Maurer is confident will happen.

"By cleaning up the area and cleaning up the public areas, it's eventually going to improve the value of those properties, it's going to make them more in demand, and will just continue to elevate the entire area," he said.

Maurer says he hopes to have enough signatures on the petition to form the district by the end of August with a vote on the tax to be completed by mailing ballots shortly afterwards.

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