Nixa city administrator eyes the future without a sales tax increase — and says it doesn't look good
A one-cent sales tax increase for police and parks in Nixa failed at the polls on November 8.
Nixa city officials are deciding how to move forward after voters rejected a sales tax for police and parks by two percentage points on November 8.
The one-cent sales tax increase would have paid for a new police department headquarters, more officers and what was being called a destination indoor sports complex, among other things.
Nixa City Administrator Jimmy Liles said while he respects the decision of voters, that decision means the city will have to make some tough choices going forward.
"The city of Nixa is growing at a very rapid rate, and, unfortunately, our expenses continue growing with that, but our revenues are not growing at the same rate," he said. "So anytime your expenses are growing at a higher rate than revenues, you've got to make some very difficult decisions, and I think that's where we're at."
He said the city is at a tipping point — the sales tax hasn’t gone up since 1987.
"We've continued to provide some fantastic — what I feel is fantastic services to the community that they've become accustomed to," he said, "but we're going to have to start evaluating those and see if those services can continue at the same level or if we need to start cutting those back."
In a statement released shortly after the election, Liles said, "without significant additional tax revenue, we have every reason to anticipate deeper cuts to the Police and Parks Departments in the coming years."
City officials have been cutting fat from the budget for several years, according to Liles, and “there’s really just not a whole lot left to cut.”
City officials plan to meet with city council and the mayor to talk about what their future options are, and residents can expect to learn which cuts will be made for the 2023 budget during the next few city council meetings, he said.
"If we don't do something, you know, within the next short bit, then we are going to be operating in the red, you know, within the next several years," said Liles.
He believes the city needs to go back to residents and find out what projects they would support. He said he’ll likely discuss with city council the possibility of putting another sales tax increase on the ballot.
And he said they need to continue pushing the message that Nixa — a city with one of the lowest sales tax rates in southwest Missouri — needs to raise that rate.