Blue Springs voters are likely to decide next spring on a local tax question that advocates say levels the playing field for local retailers.

The Blue Springs Economic Development Corp. last week endorsed a use tax, and Mayor Carson Ross said the City Council is expected to vote in mid-January to put it on the April 3 ballot.

A use tax is collected on internet sales, essentially the same as a sales tax. The lack of such a tax gives online sellers an unfair advantage, proponents say. They say it feeds the practice of customers using brick-and-mortar stores as showrooms and then rushing home to buy items online and tax-free.

“No. 1, your local retailers are hurting as a result,” Ross said.

Independence also is going to the voters with a use tax in April. The Missouri Municipal League says more than 100 cities around the state have done the same, and voters have generally said yes.

The lack of such a tax also hurts cities, which rely heavily on sales taxes.

“Just Amazon is over half a million dollars a year” for Blue Springs, Ross said.

The city can put the issue on the ballot but not actively promote it.

“Education,” Ross said. “That’s basically our focus – education.”