Editor’s note: Election Day is Tuesday, April 2. We want to encourage you to make your voice heard at the polls on several important issues to our community. The deadline to register to vote in this election is March 6. Voter registration applications are available online at sos.mo.gov (Missouri Secretary of State’s website), at a Department of Motor Vehicles office or any state agency that provides service to the public. Visit http://maps.springfieldmo.gov/voterdist/ or call the Citizen Resource Center at 417-864-1010 to find your polling place.
On April 2, Springfield voters will elect the mayor and five City Council members, determine whether to continue the 1/4-cent Capital Improvements Sales Tax for 20 years with no tax increase and consider a $168 million bond proposal to fund 39 high-priority improvements at Springfield Public Schools.
Mayor and City Council
The candidates for mayor and City Council appearing on the ballot are:
- Ken McClure
- Abe McGull
- Noah Snelson
- Mike Schilling
- Matthew Simpson
General Council Seat C
- Andrew Lear
- Jaye Owens
- Amy Champlin
General Council Seat D
- Richard Ollis.
The Neighborhood Advisory Council is hosting two candidate forums prior to the election. The first is 2-5 p.m. March 10 at Immaculate Conception Church and the second is 2-5 p.m. March 17 at Drury University Findlay Student Center.
1/4-cent Capital Improvements Sales Tax
In place since 1989, this tax has generated nearly $250 million to fund road, bridge, stormwater and sidewalk projects in Springfield. When possible, funding is leveraged with other partners, including county, state, federal governments and developers. The 1/4-cent Capital Improvement Sales Tax is a sales tax continuation with no additional cost to taxpayers. A significant portion of the revenue generated comes from non-residents. Sales tax funds have been used to increase roadway capacity and improve safety on major roadways that serve the region. Projects are chosen so that each council zone will see improvements within the next five years.
The 1/4-cent Capital Improvement Sales Tax is estimated to generate about $11 million per year in the first five years of the tax cycle to be invested in high-priority projects, such as major street resurfacing and rehabilitation, traffic flow improvements, school sidewalks, stormwater management and neighborhood initiatives. Renewed for the ninth time in 2016, the tax has passed with more than 70 percent in support the past four cycles. The tax most recently passed with 86 percent approval. Proposed projects for the first five years of the 2019 1/4-cent Capital Improvement Sales Tax cycle were selected through a combination of public input, City department and partner agency assessed need, prior public/partner agency commitment and equitable geographic distribution.
Public input was sought through a citizen survey conducted online and in print Aug. 13- Sept. 7, 2018. Citizens were asked to identify their top three projects and offer input to help guide the level of investment in certain programs.
Out of 1,504 total responses collected, eight projects rose to the top, each earning at least 5 percent of the vote. Of these eight, seven were included in the final list of proposed projects. City/agency need is determined by City departments and partner agencies who assess other variables that may impact the project’s overall benefit to the community. Total crashes, traffic capacity, infrastructure condition, economic development potential and flooding within the project area were all factors considered. Six projects were identified as previous commitments made to voters or partner agencies. The final variable considered was the location of each proposed improvement. Projects are chosen so that each council zone will see improvements within the next five years.
Visit SGFNeighborhoodNews.com/1-4cent/ for more information and the list of proposed projects.
SPS bond proposal
If approved, this 18-cent increase to Springfield Public Schools’ debt-service levy would be phased in over two years with a 9-cent increase the first year and a 9-cent increase the second year. The cost increase to the owner of a home valued at $100,000 would be $34.20 annually following full phase-in, which would equal $2.85 per month.
If approved, the 2019 bond proposal will generate approximately $168 million to fund secure entrances at 31 schools, a new early childhood center in southwest Springfield, additional preschool space in midtown and northwest Springfield, and improvements or new facilities at Delaware, Sunshine, Boyd and Williams elementary schools, Jarrett Middle School and Hillcrest High School.
A 31-member task force co-chaired by David Hall and Bridget Dierks studied the current condition of Springfield schools over a period of five months and evaluated the most critical improvements needed.
“Our study revealed that there is a significant need within the district, so we believe that it is imperative that the school board request funding for these critical projects,” Hall said. “We weighed the identified needs with feedback from community members about cost, impact on neighborhoods and equity, and we believe that conversation has produced recommendations our entire community can support.”
Visit SGFNeighborhoodNews.com/SPSbondproposal for more information.