On Nov. 5, Springfield voters will be asked whether or not to renew the 1/8-cent Transportation Sales Tax and the 3/4-cent Police-Fire Pension Sales Tax. An overview of the two taxes is below.
1/8-cent Transportation Sales Tax
First approved by voters in 1996 and renewed every four years since then, the 1/8-cent Transportation Sales Tax has generated approximately $102 million to fund transportation system improvements in Springfield, funding street resurfacing and rehabilitation, traffic flow, safety and walkability projects.
In August, Springfield City Council evaluated the possibility of a longer-term cycle option for the tax. The council voted to maintain a sunset of the tax, but extend it to 20 years. A longer term would change the way the City is able to use the tax funds:
- The City currently splits up project phases (e.g., design and construction). The City cannot fully commit to completing all phases of a project during a four-year cycle but could commit to see a project through all phases during a longer cycle.
- The City would have the flexibility to respond to unknown future needs, such as those related to a job growth project or critical infrastructure needs.
- The City could utilize bonding to accelerate certain projects and/or to address larger scale projects that might not otherwise be feasible because they would require too large of an amount of “pay-as-you-go” money.
Public input and project prioritization processes will continue to be conducted on a regular basis to collect feedback to be used in the selection of future projects and programs over the 20-year term.
The City also completes continuous long-term Capital Improvement Project planning which has a citizen input component. That, and a Citizen Tax Oversight Committee process will continue to guide accountability.
- Campbell Avenue and Walnut Lawn Intersection
- National Avenue and Division Street Intersection
- Kansas Expressway and Walnut Lawn Intersection
- Kansas Expressway and Sunset Street Intersection
- National Avenue from Battlefield Road to Walnut Lawn
- Central Street phase 2 – Benton Avenue to Clay Avenue
Proposed City-wide improvement programs
- Major street resurfacing/rehabilitation
- Traffic flow and safety
- Cost-share / economic development projects
- Bridge repair and replacement
The 1/8-cent Transportation Sales Tax ballot issue 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.
The tax is estimated to generate approximately $22 million in the first four years of the cycle for voter-approved projects and programs. When possible, funding is leveraged with other partners, including county, state, federal governments and private developers. Renewed for the sixth time in 2016, the tax has passed with more than 80% in support the past four cycles. The tax most recently passed with nearly 86% approval.
Proposed projects for the first four years of the 1/8-cent Transportation 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.
More than 1,600 citizens provided their input on project priorities via a survey conducted over the summer. Citizens were asked to identify their top five projects and offer feedback to help guide the investment of additional funds if available.
For more information about the 1/8-cent Transportation Sales Tax and to view a list of projects that have been completed with 1/8-cent funds, visit springfieldmo.gov/election.
3/4-cent Police-Fire Pension Sales Tax
Springfield’s police-fire pension plan was created in 1946 to provide for the well-being of disabled and retired Springfield police officers and firefighters. As of June 30, 2008, the plan’s funded ratio had dropped to a low of 35.5%-funded status.
Springfield’s police-fire pension plan was greatly underfunded, and Springfield citizens voted in 2009 to implement a 3/4-cent Police-Fire Pension Sales Tax to help address this community need and renewed the five-year tax in 2014. As of June, the total assets in the pension plan had increased to $428.7 million with a funded ratio of 80%.
All of the revenue from the sales tax since it was implemented in May 2010, is contributed to the pension plan for police officers and firefighters. At the time of the 2009 election, officials made it clear the tax would need to be renewed in 2014 to continue toward 100% funding of the plan. With 80% funded as of June 2019, the Police-Fire Pension Board and Springfield City Council voted to ask the voters for another renewal, in order to reach the 100% funded level.
After the April 2014 continuation of the 3/4-cent Police-Fire Pension Sales Tax, by June 30, 2018, the total assets in the pension plan had increased to $428.7 million with a funded ratio of 86%.
The pension plan is still below the 100% funded level necessary for a “closed” pension plan to be sustainable. Because it is a closed plan, (meaning no new members) the goal is to have 100% of the money (assets) needed to pay expected future retirement benefits (liabilities). While an 86%-funded level may be considered “healthy” for open pension plans, a closed plan is different – no new employees are being added to a closed plan, so there are no new employee contributions being added to the plan.
By state statute, this tax must sunset and come back to the voters for renewal every five years. If the tax is renewed in 2019, the tax will sunset when City’s self-funded plan reaches 100% funded status, or after five years, whichever comes first. Actuaries project it will take a maximum of five years for the pension plan to reach 100% funded.
For more information about the 3/-4-cent Police-Fire Pension Sales Tax, visit springfieldmo.gov/election.