Revisions in city action plans to be presented

·3 min read

May 9—Joplin city officials on Monday night will discuss more revisions made to proposals intended to address city goals for community improvements, including blighted housing.

The six goals, set last fall, are to address declining neighborhoods; improve community appearance, including the public properties maintained by the city; increase economic opportunities for all; address homelessness; reduce crime and increase safety; as well as create and grow resilient revenue to improve levels of city services.

The council earlier designated work to address declining neighborhoods as its No. 1 goal.

Repairing housing and replacing dilapidated houses is the first strategy of that goal.

Information prepared for the meeting shows that the plan now applies citywide rather than only in targeted neighborhoods.

To encourage builders to buy and tear down deteriorated housing, city administrators have increased incentives in each price level of new housing by $5,000.

Because the city has a number of large buildings that have sat vacant and deteriorating for years, another strategy for declining neighborhoods would be to strengthen city code to require a higher level of property maintenance. That initiative has been amended to include adding regulations for residential lodging such as those offered on Airbnb.

For home repairs, city officials will propose to add $200,000 in city funding for repair projects as well as using federal funds that can go only to low-income homeowners.

A $1 million program called Joplin Homeowner Assistance that is similar to a homebuying program the city offered after the 2011 tornado has been modified to also provide assistance for home repairs. It initially focused on providing financial assistance to buyers of new homes that were constructed on vacant lots in order to encourage new building.

Action for a second goal, to improve community appearance, calls for adoption of litter cleanup projects by community groups on city streets, recognition of residence and business of the week for appearance, and a review of zoning codes to incorporate design guidelines for properties for crime prevention.

It also is recommended that building codes be reviewed and amended for appearance requirements of commercial or nonresidential buildings.

As part of the city push for resilient revenue, city staff also will propose that council authorize establishment of a museum and theater taxing district.

The programs created to address the six goals would be funded by revenue generated by a proposed use tax that could be placed on the Nov. 2 ballot with council consent for action by voters.

Language for the proposed ballot measure also is one of the items to be discussed at the meeting.

The proposed ballot language is:

"In an attempt to eliminate the unfair advantage enjoyed by out-of-state vendors over local vendors, shall the city of Joplin, Missouri, impose a local use tax at the same rate as the total local sales tax rate, currently three and one eighth percent (3 1/8%), provided that if any local sales tax is repealed, reduced, or raised by voter approval, the local use tax rate shall also be repealed, reduced or raised by the same action? A use tax return shall not be required to be filed by persons whose purchases from out-of-state vendors do not in total exceed two thousand dollars in any calendar year."

Other discussions at the meeting are to involve a finance committee report on the proposal for renovation and operation of Memorial Hall as well as the presentation of a recommendations from a committee of residents regarding the quarter-cent sales tax for parks and stormwater.