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Politics

August Ballot in Nixa Features Parks Sales Tax

Nixa voters will decide next week if the city’s sales tax should be increased for parks and recreation.  KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has more.

Nixa voters will decide next week if the city’s sale tax should be increased for parks and recreation.  According to Nixa Parks director, Matt Crouse, the 3/8-cent tax would provide money for operations, maintenance, upkeep and development of new parks in Nixa.

Currently, the Nixa Parks Department is funded with $500,000 out of the city’s general fund each year.  He said a tax for parks would allow the general fund to do more in the city.

"Provide police, economic development, continued infrastructure--more streets, sidewalks, connectivity and things within our community," he said.

Part of the money would be used to develop land at Northview and Gregg into a new park.

"It's a 34-acre park.  It would have a two to three acre fishing lake for catch and release fishing, a mile or just over a mile's worth of walking trails, soccer fields, playground equipment, several pavilions, picnic areas," he said.

He said the park would take up to 12 years to complete.

The ballot issue isn’t without opposition.  The group Vote No for Nixa is pushing voters to turn down next week’s tax increase.  One of its organizers, Jonathan LaBrie, said he’s not against parks, he’s against the tax.

"This tax will take $870,000 out of the pockets of hard working families every year, and, you know, a lot of people--they can't afford to spare any extra money," he said.

LaBrie is upset with the city for not addressing flooding issues in parts of Nixa over the last ten years.  He accuses the city of holding that issue hostage unless voters approve the tax increase next week.

He believes user fees charged at some parks facilities should be sufficient to take care of parks.

"If the gym and the pool are going to charge user fees then they should no longer get any subsidies.  They should have to operate, you know, sink or swim on their own merit," he said.

And he said there’s a lot of wasteful spending by the city that could be saved for a new park.

The city argues that Nixa residents have said they want new parks, and the only way to accomplish that is through another funding source.

The ballot issue to be decided next Tuesday would raise the current sales tax rate in Nixa to 7.85 percent from 7.475 percent.