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As Nixa grapples with 'growing pains,' leaders eye placing a 1 cent sales tax increase before voters

Nixa sign
City of Nixa
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The city's population was around 12,000 residents in the year 2000—but that total had ballooned to more than 24,000 by 2021, according to a city spokesman.

Nixa City Council will vote Monday night on whether to place the issue on the November 8, 2022 ballot.

The population of Nixa, Missouri has more than doubled since the year 2000, leading officials to lament the "growing pains" of an infrastructure struggling to keep pace.

Nixa’s police chief Joe Campbell said his department is bursting at the seams. Interview rooms have been converted into storage space, and closets have been converted into offices.

He said a new building for the police department is needed to address current and future public safety issues in Nixa. And he said 11 more officers are needed to meet the current demand for service.

"These 11 officers would help us answer calls for service, but it would also help us answer the requests that we get for crime prevention programs, to continue our investigations when we do have crime in our city and to keep our response times low," said Campbell.

Nixa Parks director Matt Crouse tells a similar story of need. Crouse said Nixa's population has nearly doubled in size since the X Center was built in 2002, and they’re running out of space for sports and recreation. He said the city needs a new sports complex to accommodate the growth.

Crouse told Nixa City Council that youth sports have grown 57 percent in the last six years.

The City of Nixa is asking city council to approve a ballot measure that would have voters decide a one-cent sales tax increase. If approved, the additional revenue would fund a $13 million, three-story building to serve as police department headquarters, 11 new police officers and a $25 million 80,000-square-foot indoor sports complex.

City administrator Jimmy Liles said Nixa has one of the lowest sales tax rates in southwest Missouri. The city’s general sales tax hasn’t increased since 1987. And it hasn’t collected personal property tax since then, either.

He said the proposed projects are simply not possible without a sales tax increase.

"We don't have the financing available—the financials available to be able to afford—or the revenues to be able to afford to build the police department facility, the sports complex, to hire 11 officers," he said. "It's not there."

Liles told Nixa City Council this week Campbell asked him last year for funding to hire six new officers, and he had to tell Campbell "no," due to funding.

City officials said in a news release that similar cities, like Republic, collect more sales tax than Nixa, allowing them to make larger investments in infrastructure and community amenities.

Those investments in infrastructure, in turn, are "key" to attracting developers and businesses to the town—a realm Nixa is keen to remain competitive in.

Nixa City Council will vote Monday night on whether to put the issue before voters. If approved, the sales tax increase will be decided on November 8, 2022.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.