Tax Proposals in Ozark Mo
Nobody likes taxes. Well, almost nobody as there are certain politicians that seem to like taxes a lot. I don’t. However, I do like having good streets. I like clean water and a working sewer system. I also like great (not good, but GREAT) schools for my children, fire protection and police protection. So, Ozark, we have a problem. With the apparent exception of our school system, the amount of money coming in to the various entities that provide these services (city, fire district, schools, etc.) may not pay for all of the services we expect. (I’d love to see the schools get more funding in certain areas, but they at least appear to be better off than other entities that provide our basic services.) As a result, there are now two tax proposals in Ozark MO this year.
As an Alderman for the City of Ozark I am in a relatively unique position to have firsthand knowledge of some of the financial issues Ozark is facing. In a previous post I wrote about the Transportation Sales Tax Proposal in Ozark. It’s a small tax. Only 38 cents per $100 spent, but I don’t take the request lightly. We simply do not have the funds to fix our roads, especially now that the county has taken away a huge chunk of our already limited roads budget. There simply isn’t enough economic activity in Ozark at this time to fix our streets and also support all of the other services people expect from the city. While I and others in the community are working hard to change this and bring in new business, it’s going to take a while. It won’t happen overnight.
Similarly, the Ozark Fire Protection District (OFPD) now says that they are having financial difficulties. According to this News-Leader article, OFPD has closed one fire station already and say they may have to close another. The article also states that the tax levy of the OFPD is only 59% as much as Nixa’s and Strafford has almost twice the levy of the OFPD. All of this with the OFPD serving almost 40% more calls than in 2007 and while serving a much larger land and population area. There is no doubt that the best way to increase revenue to the City of Ozark and the OFPD is to increase economic activity and growth in the Ozark area. But, again, that will take time.
I know several of the members of the Board of Directors for the Ozark Fire Protection District. (It is a common misconception that the city runs the fire department. It does not.) While I do not yet have enough information to form an opinion of the request, the men I know simply would NOT propose this tax increase without solid cause. They are, in my opinion, serious people who understand what they are asking of our citizens.
There are many folks who will vote against any tax increase of any kind regardless of the worthiness of the issue. Personally, I will be taking the time to learn as much as possible about the needs of the OFPD. I encourage everyone to do the same before making up your mind. I would hate to see a tragedy occur to make people seriously consider this issue.
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