Increase In Downtown Sales Tax Proposed

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – If you frequent businesses in downtown Springfield, you could soon see a slight increase in sales tax, but you probably won’t be voting on it.

The Community Improvement District Downtown is asking voters for the go-ahead to increase the sales tax rate for anyone who shops or dines downtown. Those with the Downtown Springfield Association say it’s a small chunk of change for  individual patrons, but a big investment into development and safety in downtown.

The Community Improvement District board is hoping voters will approve raising the CID sales tax rate from a quarter of a cent to a half cent. But while it would affect anyone shopping downtown, ballots are only being sent to the 650 registered voters who live within the CID boundaries.

“We have that many registered voters, but keep in mind that the loft population is very mobile,” said Rusty Worley, executive director of the Downtown Springfield Association.

It’s a tax that will come out of every patron’s pocket. The benefits, however, Worley said will also impact everyone.

For example, if you go downtown and spend $20, the current CID sales tax would cost you a nickel. If  the sales tax is increased to a half a cent, you’d then be paying a dime.

“The cost is really spare change for most our users and that trade off, that little bit of spare change, investing that in our downtown and the directions that’s it’s gone, to keep it clean safe and friendly, that’s something most of our patrons have been receptive of,” Worley said.

Worley says the CID board estimates it will collect $330,000 a year with the increased rate. That’s double last year’s revenue. The money would fund maintenance for public parking lots and public ways, marketing and promote downtown, but most importantly safety.

“We want to have more officers downtown during the day so that those officers are out and walking a beat, or out on the sidewalks on a segway or on a bike,” Worley said. “They’re interacting with business owners or residents.”

If passed, the half a cent sales tax goes into effect in January of 2017 and runs through the next 15 years.

Ballots were sent out to residents in the CID Downtown this week and need to be mailed or turned into the County Clerk’s Office by Aug. 30.

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