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Tax, bond issues fill next month’s ballot for area voters

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Several cities, counties and fire protection districts have tax measures and bond issues for voters to consider on the April 4 election ballot. A “yes” vote would approve the respective proposals.

Battlefield Fire Protection District tax levy
The Battlefield Fire Protection District seeks a property tax levy increase to address what officials say is inadequate funding to keep up with growth in the area.

The district, which covers a largely residential area of approximately 70,000 residents, plans to use the funds for improvements amid an increased demand for services.

If approved, the proposed assessment would set the levy at 78 cents, a 25-cent increase. The Battlefield Fire Protection District serves the entire city of Battlefield, along with parts of Ozark, Nixa, Republic and Springfield.

Officials say the levy increase would allow the district to add staffing and improve employee retention and service delivery, as well as maintain its Insurance Services Office rating.

Billings Fire Protection District bond issue
The Billings Fire Protection District is asking voters to approve a $3 million bond issue to aid in updating apparatus and equipment. District officials say the issue, if approved, would also allow the district to pay off its outstanding debt of roughly $166,000 used to purchase engines and other equipment in the early 2000s.

The issue’s passage would result in a 32-cent increase of the tax levy to nearly 70 cents, according to officials. Homeowners with a $100,000 home value would pay $60.80 more per year.

City officials say the measure marks the first bond issue or tax levy increase sought by the Fire Department since 1992.

Fair Grove Fire Protection District bond issue
A $3 million bond issue is being sought by the Fair Grove Fire Protection District with goals including the replacement of a fire station and paying off debt.

The district, which encompasses 92 square miles in four counties, wants to replace its nearly 40-year-old wood-frame fire station on Highway AA in Dallas County. The structure has reached the end of its expected lifespan, according to officials. A new steel-built structure is proposed to be built on the same property as the current station.

To fund repayment of the bonds, the district would raise the operating tax levy by 29 cents to 89 cents. The annual cost to a taxpayer with a house valued at $200,000 would be $110.20.

Forsyth sales tax continuance
Continuation of a quarter-cent sales tax is being sought by the city of Forsyth for its municipal Fire Department.

The tax was first approved by voters in 2013, according to the city’s Facebook page.

At least half of the tax revenues are designated for Fire Department capital improvements or equipment acquisition and maintenance. No more than half of the revenues may go toward the department’s operating expenses.

Past purchases with the tax include a vehicle, training building, ladder truck and air compressor, and HVAC at one of the stations, according to city officials. Officials say several other needs exist, including replacement of trucks in the fleet, as well as an upgrade to the communication system.

Marijuana tax
Numerous cities and counties are seeking to impose a sales tax of 3% on retail sales of recreational marijuana. The November 2022 passage of Amendment 3 allowed local governments the option of asking voters for approval of an additional 3% sales tax on adult-use marijuana products. That percentage is in addition to the 6% retail sales state tax assessed to recreational purchases.

Christian, Dade, Lawrence, Polk and Webster counties, as well as the cities of Monett, Mount Vernon and Ozark, are asking voters in this election.

Polk County and Bolivar use tax
Polk County and the city of Bolivar are asking voters to approve a local use tax on out-of-state purchases online.

If approved, the ballot measure in Polk County would impose a 1.38% use tax – same as the local sales tax rate – on purchases from out-of-state vendors, according to the Missouri Department of Revenue. The local sales tax rate in Bolivar is 2.5%, and the use tax would be imposed at the same rate.

Stone County Emergency Services 911 sales tax
Stone County Emergency Services 911 is proposing a quarter-cent sales tax to generate additional funds for operations. Executive Director Keith Kennard said the local 911 service is primarily funded by sales taxes collected in Stone County. Over the past 20 years, he said, the 911 center has endured rising expenses maintaining the facility, equipment, software upgrades, property insurance and rising labor costs.

If approved, the $1.5 million generated annually by the tax would be applied toward purchasing equipment for Next Generation 911, an internet protocol-based emergency communication system, software, training, salaries and benefits for 911 personnel.

Stone County Developmental Disability Board tax levy renewal
A 10-cent tax levy renewal is on the ballot in Stone County. The county’s developmental disability board, a political subdivision like a health department or library board, began receiving tax levy payments in 2018. It provides services to county residents who have developmental disabilities and funds local nonprofits to offer services on its behalf.

LaDella Thomas, the organization’s executive director, said it supports 170 individuals and their families. Through the levy, the board has spent over $1.5 million in local agency and individual funding and has developed day service and residential service programs.

She said the average property owner currently pays $25-$35 annually because of the levy. Future investments for the tax levy revenue, if passed, would include building affordable housing and purchasing wheelchair-accessible transportation

Willard Fire Protection District bond issue
The Willard Fire Protection District, which oversees 72 square miles of territory, is seeking voter approval for a $10 million bond issue.

The measure would phase in over the next 10 years, according to fire district officials.

The Willard Fire Protection District has four goals for the funding: pay off debt, upgrade equipment, replace a 1986 ladder truck and begin exploratory steps toward building a new fire station at the site of the current Willard Police station.

In the first five years, a taxpayer with a $100,000 home value would pay $36 more per year, and taxes would increase to $71 annually in the second five years when including construction of a new fire station.


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