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Voters to decide sales tax increase for parks

The tax would generate $5-6 million per year for 10 years.

Posted: May 20, 2021 11:12 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) -- St. Joseph voters will have a tax increase question on the August ballot.

During a special city council meeting Wednesday afternoon, members were unanimous in their approval of ballot language that will ask voters for a 1/2 cent sales tax increase with revenues generated going solely for renovation and upkeep of the city's parks system.

City staff say the tax would generate between $5-6 million per year.

Speaking to the council, parks director Chuck Kempf said his office already has a list of around 140 projects that need to be completed.

However, with the vote, the council also said they would like to form a committee of citizens to review the list and look to develop priorities that could be communicated to voters ahead of the election.

Mayor Bill McMurray said he was encouraged by the entire council recognizing the need he says exists. He said that he hopes voters agree and see the value in the parks system that they would be willing to pay an extra 50 cents for every $100 of groceries they buy, which is what the tax would cost.

"This system that our forebearers gave to us we've deferred maintenance on," McMurray said. "We have an underperforming asset here. We need to bring the maintenance up to the level it needs to be and with $50-60 million we can do that over a ten year period."

The language on the tax proposal includes a ten year sunset.

City staff said after doing some research they believe that some of the funds from the tax could be used for renovations at the Civic Arena. Parks staff have identified several million dollars of work that needs to be completed in advance of 2023, when the NCAA Division 2 women's basketball championships come to St. Joseph.

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Temperatures today were slightly above average with highs in the upper 80s. Similar conditions are in store for the first half of the day on Monday as well. A cold front will move through the area in the afternoon on Monday bringing chances for thunderstorms. Tonight, however, will be dry with lows in the upper 60s. After a cold front moves through the area Monday afternoon, temperatures will be more comfortable and fall like through the rest of the week.
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