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Springfield city council approves three ballot initiatives ahead of April election

Springfield, Missouri's Historic City Hall, photographed Aug. 9, 2022.
Gregory Holman/KSMU
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Springfield, Missouri's Historic City Hall, photographed Aug. 9, 2022.

Springfield City Council voted on four ballot initiatives on Monday night — and at least three of them are headed to city voters in April.

During their Monday night meeting, City Council debated sending four bills to voters at the next city election.

The first initiative would tax short-term rentals like Airbnb within city limits. Officials said the tax could bring in half a million dollars to be spent on promoting travel, tourism, sports and the arts.

The other three proposals would ask voters to amend Springfield’s city charter.

One amendment would change the city’s hiring practices around seasonal, part-time, and recently retired employees. City Manager Jason Gage said the language changes would make hiring more efficient.

City contracts would be affected by the other two proposals. One bill gives the city power to accept contract bids more quickly. The other would more firmly regulate city elected officials, staff and appointees from awarding city contracts to benefit themselves or their businesses.

That last proposal comes after former Springfield Councilwoman Jan Fisk was investigated and fined in recent years for failing to disclose her financial ties while in office. The new amendment would define conflicts of interest as those that violate state and city laws. A council member who violates those laws would not only be prosecuted, but lose their council seat.

Councilman Craig Hosmer worried that letting state law decide what constitutes a conflict of interest would put too much power in the hands of state lawmakers.

“I think to put these provisions in the hands of the legislature, that we have absolutely no control over, I think that’s going to be a process that may come back to bite us,” Hosmer said at the council meeting.

Mayor Ken McClure said he sympathized with Hosmer’s position. The debate continued for a half-hour before Council voted to table the bill until January 17. If Council passes that bill, it would join the trio of initiatives Council decided to send to voters on Monday.

The city election is scheduled for Tuesday, April 4.

Josh Conaway is a graduate of Missouri State University with a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in International Affairs. He works as a news reporter and announcer at KSMU. His favorite part of the job is exploring the rich diversity of the Ozarks and meeting people with interesting stories to share. He has a passion for history and running.