In the November general election, Nixa voters will decide a proposed 1-cent sales tax increase to fund Nixa police and parks. The city would earmark all new revenue from the tax increase for public safety and recreation.
Nixa City Council voted this week to send the issue to voters. Nixa City Administrator Jimmy Liles and city staff, including Chief of Police Joe Campbell and Director of Parks & Recreation Matt Crouse proposed the measure as a solution to growing pains felt by the police department and parks & recreation department.
“Increasing the sales tax is the only way the city will be able to afford the proposal to add more police officer positions, build a new, larger police department headquarters, and add a new indoor sports complex,” said City Administrator Jimmy Liles.
“We just can’t stretch our current revenues far enough to afford these projects. We have been frugal. We have stretched our dollars as far as they can go. To keep up with the community’s growth and invest in these projects, we will need more revenue.”
The City of Nixa has not raised its general sales tax since 1987. The city currently collects a 1-cent general sales tax for that fund, and a half-cent sales tax for the street department. The city does not collect any personal property tax.
According to Liles, the city is currently spending more on police than they bring in each year via general sales tax revenue — taking in $3.4 million sales tax in 2021 while spending $3.7 on public safety that same year.
“We are in a deficit condition where the city cannot afford to keep up with the growing needs of our police department as they try to meet the growing needs of our growing city, let alone the parks department and other administrative and support departments,” he wrote.
The police department requested six more officers in the 2022 budget, but the city could not afford to add any of those positions.
If the tax hike is approved, the city will hire at least an additional 11 police officer positions in the next 5 years, build a larger police department headquarters, and build a large indoor sports complex. The funds would also go to add more trails and parks amenities, speed up plans for repairs and improvements to existing park facilities, and keep up with rising costs for police and parks operations.
The Nixa Police Department currently has 43 officers and six civilian staff. In his statement concerning the tax increase, Liles says city projections show Nixa needs a total of 80 officers by 2040 to keep up with increasing demand.
If passed, Nixa would construct a new 3-story police headquarters, which would take up the NPD parking lot and utility billing facility on the current municipal government campus. Utility billing would move to city hall.
“The three-story building would have two completely finished floors to accommodate our current needs, and the third floor would have an unfinished interior to save on cost until department growth necessitates infill of more offices at some point in the next 20 years,” Liles wrote.
After moving in to the new building, the current police facility would be demolished. The project is estimated to cost approximately $13 million.
The sales tax money would also go toward the construction of an 80,000+ square foot indoor sports complex featuring indoor, regulation-sized basketball courts. The facility would also feature a fitness center and an indoor turf field.
The facility proposed by the city comes with an estimated price tag of $25 million.
Andrew Sullender is the local government reporter for the Springfield News-Leader. Follow him on Twitter @andrewsullender. Email tips and story ideas to [email protected]