Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More on 1/8-cent Transportation Tax

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. more...


Anonymous said...

what about the 266 debacle at the airport. Was this tax money used for that too.


Jacke M. said...

I don't know, but I'm trying to find out. Good question.

Oh, I forgot, asking good questions is what you're paid for. ;)

Jacke M. said...

From Public Information Director Louise Whall:

"There is no 1/8-cent money in the construction of 266 or Airport Blvd."

Jacke M. said...

Public Information Director Louis Whall, who was kind enough to point out that I had misspelled Councilman Wylie's name (corrected here but, unfortunately, not corrected in my article on the city budget in CFP's new issue), has added some more information regarding the 1/8-cent transportation sales tax as relates to 266 or Airport Blvd. I'm busy, myself, so I'll let her tell it in her own words:

"After talking to Marc, (Thornsberry) he said that I should add to my previous answer to say that while there is no construction money, I didn’t look up the design costs and the City used $645,000 of 1/8-cent money toward design costs as a cost-share with MoDOT, but no 1/8-cent money for construction. Just want to make sure I give full disclosure.

I’m no longer interested in relaying any corrections beyond something simple and obvious like a Council name misspelling. However, I will also point out that the 1/8-cent doesn’t “elapse” in August. If voters renew it, the new 1/8-cent would start on April 1, 2009. If it is not renewed, it would expire on March 31, 2009. And it remains 1/8 cent during that whole period so there’s no double taxation in the overlap. The ballot issues are put on the ballot well before the effective date to allow the time for the state certification of the results."

She's a peach. If you ever have any questions about city business, give her a call!

tom said...

"I’m no longer interested in relaying any corrections beyond something simple and obvious like a Council name misspelling".

This part sounds kind of snobbish, but I could be mistaken. I would think it important for some city employees to correct misinformation so the members of the community don't get the wrong impression.
I would really like to see the information department of this city to inform the News Leader when it is that they have mischaraterised something in print.

Jacke M. said...

There was a little word parsing going on there too, Tom. I didn't ask if there was any 1/8-cent transportation tax used in "the construction" of 266 or Airport Blvd. in the question I posed to Louise. I asked if any of the tax was used to fund it. So, when I get something wrong I make every effort to correct it. I'm glad Louise does the same.

I spent more than a full work week (intermittantly emailing) asking her questions and getting documentation concerning this tax and I appreciated the time she took to answer my questions and fax documentation to me, as I always do when she assists me.

If I got something wrong, it certainly wasn't because I didn't make every effort to get it right. I can tell you, the exact date of when the tax elapses (and the new tax, if approved, picks up) didn't strike me as one of the more important details of the information I was trying to share with the public, but certainly, in terms of legality it would be a very important detail to the city. Since, EVERY fact should be important to us all, I'm thankful that she took the time to correct it.

As far as whether she intended to be snobbish, I can't say what's in her heart.