Proposals for Joplin parks, stormwater to be discussed

·3 min read

May 9—A recommendation from a committee of residents that Joplin parks receive a larger share of the city's quarter-cent sales tax will be presented to the Joplin City Council at a work session Monday.

Members of the 2021 Parks and Stormwater Sales Tax Committee will be at the 5:45 p.m. meeting to convey the tax allocation and recommended projects if voters approve a third round of the tax in Aug. 3 voting.

Sixteen residents were appointed to serve on the committee, led by Mike Seibert, former council member and mayor.

Details of 39 possible projects for Joplin parks and 25 to increase stormwater drainage were evaluated by the committee to arrive at those considered to be the priorities for the next 10 years should the tax renewal pass.

After making those selections, the committee discussed how to split the proceeds of the tax between the two purposes. Because of the need for flood control, stormwater purposes had received the larger allocation in the current 10-year program and the first cycle of the tax.

Seibert advised the committee members to consider what balance in spending would best suit the needs of residents and be favored by voters.

City staff told the group that when the tax was first proposed, stormwater received nearly two-thirds of tax revenues because of the costly projects needed to reduce flooding, particularly in downtown.

Committee members looked at the projects that could be accomplished if the revenue were split 60-40 or 50-50, and decided on 55% for parks and 45% for stormwater.

That split would fund $23.4 million for parks including replacement of the Ewert pool with a new splash park and construction of a mountain bike park with a pump track. It also would provide about $19.9 million for stormwater projects.

The city committee will recommend that Joplin parks get a larger share of money than stormwater projects from a quarter-cent sales tax if it is renewed by voters for another 10 years.

The recommendation of the 2021 Parks and Stormwater Sales Tax Committee will be presented to the City Council at a work session Monday.

The council is expected to act next month to place the question on the Aug. 3 ballot asking voters to renew the tax for a third time.

Committee members discussed with city officials on Thursday night three possible plans for dividing the revenue between parks and stormwater projects. Those were dividing the money evenly, or 55% for parks and 45% for stormwater, or 60% parks and 40% stormwater.

Leslie Haase, the city's finance director, told the committee that when the tax was first proposed in 2001, more than two-thirds of it, 68%, went to stormwater projects.

That was because there was much need for flood reduction with a number of expensive projects such as collaring Willow Branch in the downtown. It had caused extensive damage to downtown businesses with two big floods and filled downtown streets in heavy rains.

Flood control also received the larger share of funding in the second cycle at 59%.

Seibert advised committee members to consider what balance in spending would best suit the needs of residents and be favored by voters.

Committee members have evaluated and ranked 39 potential parks projects and 25 proposed stormwater drainage projects. With that in mind, the group by a vote of 8-2 decided to recommend the 55%-45% split.

Another matter the council will take up at the meeting is the wording of the ballot language for the proposal.

The proposed language for the ballot measure to be reviewed at the meeting is:

"Shall the city of Joplin, Missouri, extend a sales tax of one-quarter (1/4) of one percent (1%) for a period of ten (10) years for the purpose of providing funding for stormwater control and local parks improvements for the city?"