Since I had posted about the 1/8-cent transportation tax here, here and here, I wanted to follow up by posting the section of my Council column in Community Free Press - Midweek that covers that issue:
1/8-Cent Transportation Sales Tax
City Council passed Council Bill 2008-116 on May 5. The purpose of the special ordinance was to allow voters to decide whether to continue the 1/8-cent transportation sales tax 4 more years, from 2009-2012.
The current tax is set to elapse in August, 2009. Councilman Gary Deaver was interested in the process of choosing the projects funded by the transportation tax.
“We work in partnership with MoDOT, Greene County, and the city and really look at where we can get the most value for the transportation dollars that we have,” Director of Public Works Marc Thornsberry answered.
Even though some believe there is subjective language in the ballot, voters have approved the transportation tax three times, beginning in 1996.
The language people have questioned includes unidentified “high priority transportation improvements,” and “other shared funding projects.”
Parking improvements for economic development priorities showed up on the 2000 ballot and street and parking were included as high priority transportation investments in 2004.
This year’s ballot language does not specify parking, but includes “other shared funding projects with county, state, federal, and developers to advance high-priority transportation projects,” which are identified in the bill as, “related to economic development and quality of life enhancements.”
Springfield’s Director of Public Information, Louise Whall, offered insight regarding the general language of the bill and ballot.
“We can’t predict with certainty whether any new opportunities or challenges will present themselves over the four-year period, i.e., a developer proposes a major retail center that needs additional infrastructure and asks for public-private cost-share or MoDOT‘s schedule changes and a project develops that could be a cost-share,” she said.
The transportation tax was used, in part, to fund the College Station and Heer’s Car Parks. According to Whall,the combined amount used from the transportation tax to build the parking garages was $2,836,950.