Your Opinion: Views on continuation of city sales tax

Submitted by Bill Plank and Linda McAnany, Co-chairs of Citizens for Continued Progress:

Dear Editor:

Proposition 1 is a continuation of the city’s half-cent capital improvements sales tax and as concerned citizens we support passage of this measure.

It is projected this tax will provide an estimated $26 million over the next five years for essential capital improvements. The general breakdown is as follows: 59 percent will be spent on public works, 19 percent on public safety, and 12 percent to Parks projects and information technology. The remaining 10 percent will be set aside for contingency spending which includes potential projects such as MSP and economic development /transformation projects.

As every person who spends money in our city pays this tax, the citizens of Jefferson City will receive far greater benefit than the money they spend. Moreover, this is a renewal of a ballot issue originally approved by voters 1986.

This funding mechanism has financed projects over the years such as Lafayette Street improvements to allow greater access to MSP, acquisition and maintenance of fire apparatus for firefighters, safety and communication equipment for our police officers, Greenway construction, and of course the Highway 179 extension from U.S. 50 to 54 which has spurred recent economic growth.

In addition, these funds are used to rehabilitate and improve roadways, bridges, sidewalks, storm water infrastructure, and public works facilities. In fact, the budget for this sales tax renewal doubles the funds available to the street overlay program from the last renewal. Furthermore, these funds have been used in conjunction numerous times with county and federal monies to leverage projects which otherwise would not have happened in our community.

This sales tax has clearly been a vital component to enhancing Jefferson City’s livability, vibrancy, and quality of life.

We appreciate your support of continued progress by voting yes, Aug. 2.

Submitted by Dennis Morrissey, Jefferson City:

Dear Editor:

The vote on the one-half cent city capital improvements sales tax is Aug. 2. Here is information you should know.

• A city official told me the city has no formal plan for spending these tax dollars. The funds can be used however the city desires.

• A city official told me these tax funds are only for new projects and equipment. The funds will not be used for maintenance and repair.

• The Parks and Recreation Department will be given about $2.45 million (10 percent) of these tax dollars, even though they have their own one-half cent sales tax.

This means Jefferson City will spend more on Parks and Recreation than on infrastructure maintenance. Parks and Recreation is the same group that wants to build a multi-million dollar recreation center to compete with existing entities and is the same entity that would be providing snorkeling or riverboat tours of Adrian’s Island this year, had it been developed.

• Some of these tax funds will likely be used for a conference center. This is a money-losing project that would call for subsidizing a new but yet-to-be identified hotel to run the facility. Do we really need to commit tax funds forever, just so we can say we have a conference center? If this was a good project, commercial business interests would develop the facility and possibly use existing commercial space.

• Does anyone know exactly how the last five years tax funds were expended? Some funds were used for roundabouts, parks projects, and $780,000 went for the bicycle bridge. Over $5 million collected from our last renewal of this tax has yet to be expended. Why do I have to file Sunshine Law requests to get information on how funds are utilized?

With no detailed expenditure plan and no public accounting of how past taxes were spent, we are being asked to blindly approve a continuation of this tax. As bad as they are, even MoDOT puts out a five year expenditure plan. We have paid for new development with this tax for 25 years. Nobody bothers to factor in the ongoing maintenance and repair cost of these projects. Wouldn’t it be a good time to re-evaluate whether we need new projects? Maybe we should redirect the tax to maintenance and repair of our infrastructure.

Please vote no on Aug. 2.

Submitted by Ken Hussey, Jefferson City:

Dear Editor:

On Aug. 2 Jefferson City residents will vote on Proposition 1 (Sales Tax F), the half-cent capital improvement sales tax. The passage of Sales Tax F will fund many projects that are necessary for the continued improvement of our city.

Sales Tax F will fund a wide-range of projects, including neighborhood improvement such as sidewalk and street repairs, improvement and renovations to our parks and recreational facilities, key maintenance on our stormwater infrastructure, and much more.

This half-cent sales tax is a small price to pay for all the benefits that we, as residents of Jefferson City, receive from it. Sales Tax F is a continuation of Sales Tax E, our previous capital improvement sales tax set to expire.

For the past 25 years, funds from our capital improvement sales taxes have made our community a better place by providing support for police and fire department communication improvements, traffic lights, the Greenway trail system, vital street and stormwater repairs, and much more.

The community has continued to support the extension of this sales tax because of the responsible and efficient use of these funds. Sales Tax F will be as effective and beneficial as the previous sales tax has been for the past five years.

I urge all registered voters to get out and vote on Aug. 2 to pass Proposition 1 (Sales Tax F). Please show your support for the continued improvement of our city!

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