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Commission works on proposal to replace pension fund tax

Proposed funding categories would align with Springfield’s 20-year plan

Posted 5/31/24

Proposed funding categories would align with Springfield’s 20-year plan.

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Afarris

I hope that your readers understand that the other cities and towns sales tax includes state tax. Plus, the other side of the pancake is expressed as follows:

I guess that the question is when does sales tax become prohibitive to the growth of Springfield? The current sales tax is 2.125% for Springfield and 1.75% Greene County. The State sales tax is 4.225% for a combined 8.1%, (state, county and city). 50% of the Springfield sales taxes have sunset terms; some ending in 2025 and separate taxes for capital projects and transportation projects ending in 20 years. Although the Springfield rate is comparable with surrounding states, counties and cities, if the rate was 50% lower, would we generate more business for Springfield and Greene County?

The City (administration and probably City Council) wants us to vote in November 2024 to restructure the current sales tax for Policemen and Firemen Pension Fund bailout (0.75% sales tax) that expires in the Spring of 2025. Council has appointed a Citizens Tax Commission with indviduals representing not for profit, government, neighborhood development and education with a few from traditional commercial businesses. These community minded individuals are devoting their time and talents to assess a) the possible extension of this tax, b) the changes in the tax rate to possibly 1%-certainly not lower than the current .075% and c) a change in sunset term from 5 years to 10, 20 or maybe make it permanent.

Additionally, they are struggling with the structure of ballot language that supports the use of these funds. Should specific projects be listed or use broad categories that gives the City much more flexibility and less initial visibility to voters? Such usages being considered include but not limited to, public safety initiatives, healthy neighborhoods, beautification, Forward SFG, facilities and equipment. They also are helping the City Council with ballot language that will sell the extension of the tax. One of the members has warned that they should not be too specific in case the state and federal governments come up with funds that the City could grab or, God for forbid, we miss out on free money from other governmental sources that has been provided by the taxpayers!!

So, what am I complaining about? It is not the pension fund; we owe Springfield firemen and policemen their pension even if the contract terms may not have been financially favorable to long-term support by the taxpayer. We owed it; we paid it. But I believe that taxpayers are entitled to be represented by fiduciarily cognizant folks who we employ, who we elect and who choose to serve on our city commissions and boards. Every time they make a financial decision as part of that process, one, not the only, but one of the considerations is “if this was my money would I spend it in this manner?”

And finally, do I want to turn over $45,000,000 a year, $450,000,000 for ten years, or $900,000,000 for 20 years to the same crew who said we were going to spend $3,500,000 to rehab a dilapidated old historical footbridge that now will cost $10,000,000 of which we are borrowing around $3.5 million and paying interest.

I know, I know, I should move to Joplin or St. Joe if I am so unhappy. But I am not unhappy. I just believe that there must be fiduciary accountability. In today’s political environment, fiscal controls and constraints have been sorely trashed and if the Council does not provide such oversight, we as voters and taxpayers must be vigilant and demand such accountability.

Monday, June 3
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