A report on association efforts to overturn a Missouri Supreme Court decision excusing state residents from paying a local sales tax on RVs and automobiles purchased in other states led a turnout of 58 people representing 17 dealerships during the Missouri Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (Missouri RVDA) State Convention Oct. 21-23 at the Hilton Convention Center at Branson Landing in Branson.
”This was the most widespread turnout that we’ve had,” said Missouri RVDA President Sheri Wheelen, owner of Wheelen RV Center Inc. in Joplin. ”We had twice as many dealers as we had last year.”
Missouri RV dealers, she said, have been fighting for two years to have the law restored to the way it was previous to the court decision, which has allowed out-of-state dealers to advertise the tax savings if an RV is purchased outside the Show Me State.
”If you go to another state to buy an RV or a car you don’t have to pay municipal or county sales taxes,” she said. ”Out-of-state dealers around St. Louis and Kansas City have been advertising that fact.”
Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a proposed law during the most recent session of the Legislature because he considered it to be a tax increase, she said.
Bill Schnieders, director of legislation for the Missouri Automobile Dealers Association, reported that a new bill has been prepared to overcome the governor’s objections. ”We’ve changed the language so that we now have the correct verbiage to satisfy the governor and get a new law passed overwhelmingly in the next session,” Wheelen said.
Other speakers during the convention included:
• National RVDA President Phil Ingrassia, who updated dealers on issues and new programs.
• Larry Oxenham of the American Society for Asset Protections, who spoke on how dealers can protect their assets.
• Lt. Greg Wheelen from the Springfield Police Department, who spoke on the understanding the younger generation.
• State Rep. Don Phillips, who gave an update on transportation matters in the upcoming General Assembly.
• Tricia Watts, senior superintendent with the Missouri Department of Revenue, who reported on recent titling changes.
• Ed Heitzman, executive director the Missouri Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.
• Roger and Sheril Veragra of R.H. Powers and Associates Inc. who talked about marketing initiatives.
Wheelen said Missouri RV dealers are particularly interested in Rand McNally’s new smartphone app created in partnership with the national RVDA that will enable RVers to access a listing of nearby RVDA member dealers across the U.S. and Canada.
The app will give RVDA members a leg up on the competition, she said. ”If you are not an RVDA member, you are not going to be represented in this app,” Wheelen said.
During the convention’s business meeting two new members were added to the board — Bruce Griffon of Griffon Trailer Town, Leadington, and Robert Cobb, 47 West Trailers Sales, Troy.
A Missouri trade group of recreational vehicle dealers is questioning the safety of former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailers that were auctioned off in Ozark, Mo., last week, the Springfield News-Leader reported.
Sheri Wheelen, president of the Missouri RV Dealers Association, said the association doesn’t stand behind these vehicles and won’t provide service for the trailers.
“We do not consider them safe and they do not comply with the standards the federal government imposes on our manufacturers and yet the federal government is allowing these inferior trailers to be sold,” Wheelen said.
Rachel Racusen, a spokeswoman for FEMA, declined to comment, saying there isn’t sufficient evidence, such as vehicle identification numbers, to show the trailers were FEMA trailers.
Mike Easterly, the owner of Easterly Auction Co., has said the trailers are FEMA trailers.
A manager at one area business that services trailers said he is hoping to get extra business from people who bought FEMA trailers and are trying to fix them up.
Billy Arnold, assistant manager at Bison Campers in Ozark, said Bison has sold $400 to $500 in parts since Easterly Auction Co. held an auction for 183 trailers Oct. 23 for a company in Marietta, Ga. It was unclear Friday how many of the trailers sold.
“We’re hoping it will give us business all the way through the spring with parts and labor,” Arnold said.
Easterly did not return phone calls Friday.
Potentially harmful levels of chemicals such as formaldehyde have been found in trailers used by FEMA as housing after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Wheelen said FEMA trailers have also had problems with mold and propane leaks. Two Mississippi men were severely burned in a trailer fire in June near Laurel, Miss., after the FEMA trailer that one of them bought exploded with both of them inside, according to news accounts. Fire officials said a propane leak caused the fire.
Wheelen said she looked at the trailers that were for sale in Ozark and noticed many of them didn’t have holding tanks for sewage.
FEMA began disposing of its excess trailers in 2006. The U.S. General Services Administration, the federal government’s purchasing arm, sold off about 120,000 of the trailers, and they are being resold around the country.