REPUBLIC, Mo. – The city of Republic is hoping to pass a new tax to increase pay for city law enforcement.
Voters turned down the same proposal in 2019 that also included money to improve city streets and build a new city hall.
Republic has grown considerably since then, but the city has not employed any new officers or firefighters.
Lieutenant Jamie Burks of the Republic Police Department commented, “When I started here 17 years ago, the city was less than half the population it is now, and less than half the square miles it is now, and we had 24 sworn officers at the time. Fast forward to 2021. We have 24 sworn officers.”
Captain Timothy King of the Republic Fire Department says the situation there is very much the same, ” The current situation is we are severely understaffed. It is only going to get worse. Our call volume is going to increase. Our major incidents are going to increase. We are just going to need more and more staff as time goes on.”
According to the city, the city voted out property taxes to fund the fire and police departments, and now the town doesn’t have enough money dedicated to public safety.
Lieutenant Burks explains, “We got into this profession to make a difference, and when you are mainly reactive because you are so short-staffed, you can’t really effectively do your job.”
The three-quarter cent sales tax will pay for an additional 12 police officers and 14 more firefighters to join the Republic departments.
The tax will also increase pay for current officers and firefighters and improve benefits to help recruit and retain staff.
“That three-quarter cent sales tax would divide that burden up by everybody that comes to the city to shop and eat and divide that burden over everybody who uses our services,” Captain King says.
Voters will decide on August third whether or not to pass the tax.