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Your Opinion: Mayor: Initiative a "game changer'

Your Opinion: Mayor: Initiative a "game changer'

February 5th, 2012 by Eric J. Struemph, mayor Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

As your mayor, I would like to encourage you to vote yes for Transformation on Feb. 7. Transformation is a 10-year economic development half-cent sales tax that would raise more than $41 million to complete a list of 30 projects around the city. I consider Transformation to be a game changer. These projects would create jobs and buffer the community from future state job cuts.

The voting public may still have questions regarding some of the proposed projects and the implementation of the taxpayer funds. The lodging tax voters approved will help build a conference center, but not the center that will be best for our city. The $10 million of Transformation sales tax fund will add 20,000 square feet of exhibition space so larger events can be held; vendor space can be sold at conferences; and events like car, antique and gun shows will have enough space to operate. Money will also be invested in ensuring the building will be aesthetically pleasing, built for future needs and something of which we can all be proud.

Transparency and accountability are a huge component of Transformation. If passed, a Jefferson City Transformation Economic Development Tax Board will be established. The board will consist of citizens appointed by three governmental bodies in our community: Jefferson City Public Schools; the mayor and City Council; and the Cole County Commission. Board meetings will be held in public, and the City Council has final authority over Transformation plans and expenditures. Your input will be valued every step of the way.

Despite what you may have heard, no funds from the Transformation tax will be used for construction of the Adrian's Island project.

The sales tax funds generated by Transformation will be in a separate account and can only be used for the transformation projects. This money will not go into general revenue. The tax generates an estimated $50 million dollars over the 10-year period. There are $41 million for the 30 projects, a contingency budget of $2 million (5 percent) and an estimated interest expense of $7 million.

When I ran for mayor, I informed you that I would use a businesses approach to city government. So far I have done just that. It's time for us as a community to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps to secure our economic vitality for today and for the future of our children.