Later this summer, Joplin voters will be asked if they support a property tax to support and expand public safety services in our community. Read the city’s full press release below:
City Council recently passed an ordinance to place a question on the August 2, 2022 ballot asking the citizens of Joplin if they would approve of a property tax for “Municipal Public Safety Services” in Joplin. The question is titled Public Safety Proposal on the ballot.
City Manager Nick Edwards introduced the discussion at the May 16, 2022 Council meeting and reviewed the City’s history of working to improve wages for public safety. He opened the presentation by saying that those who follow the City’s conversations know the constraints facing the organization, however, others may not know how the City got to this point and the issues facing the community. .
“Serving the businesses and citizens of Joplin is a source of pride for the city, including public safety professionals, and having a vibrant community with a high quality of life and strong public safety services is essential.”
The Joplin Police Department has 16 openings, but needs an additional 22 officers on top of that to meet nationally recognized law enforcement standards. The Joplin Fire Department has also experienced shortages in recent years.
“The city is facing a significant shortage of officers to patrol and enforce laws in the city,” he said. Even after positive improvements, extraordinary new challenges have arisen. After Proposition B, the city faced challenges brought on by the pandemic, such as the “big quit” with people leaving the workforce. Like the private sector, this continues to impact the City in the same way. As a result of Prop Action, the city faced a new economic reality characterized by rising costs and competition with rising wages and opportunities in the private sector. Behind every positive step, in the current context, there is a seemingly bigger and more difficult step to take. Fortunately, previous councils, citizens and businesses have responded to great challenges like this in the past. »
Citizens of Joplin will vote on the public safety proposal that would levy a property tax of $1 per $100 of assessed value on all real estate and personal property. The funds generated would be used to improve public safety services in Joplin. Currently, the city has one of the lowest property tax rates in the state at $0.1746. The majority of funding for the City’s current budget comes from a sales tax. In 2020, Joplin City Council has set several goals, including creating resilient revenue to improve service to the city, so that it does not rely solely on sales tax revenue.
Mayor Doug Lawson acknowledges the impact of this issue on residents, visitors and the future of Joplin, saying, “We are in competition with police departments across the country. It is a need that many other communities also face. This proposal would address staffing and compensation issues that have been identified in independent resource allocation studies for each department. The reports showed needs, not wants, for the City to improve our public safety services. Investment is going to be critical if we’re going to grow, and we’re not going to grow Joplin if people don’t want to move here or invest in Joplin with a new business if they don’t feel safe.
At the end of his presentation, Edwards said, “I’ve been fortunate to work with some great people from FOP and IAFF to look at funding but also solutions,” and invited Tom Bowin, Treasurer of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 27 and Jeremie Humphrey, President of the Joplin Professional Firefighters Local 59, to provide their comments on the proposal.
Bowin began by stating that Joplin was not the only community facing these issues, as agencies must choose to lower hiring standards or cut services to their citizens while struggling to find a way to better attract qualified candidates for public safety. He noted that Joplin has had a turnover rate of more than 34% each year for the past few years. The department is expected to employ 110 sworn officers, although there are only 78 officers currently available on the street. This gap creates more work for ministry employees as they take on additional responsibilities.
“We are confident that the funding this plan will provide will go a long way towards addressing these issues. And the proposed compensation plan will make us competitive with similar agencies in the region and state. FOP has spent years working with city leaders to find a solution to our crisis. The City now has a plan designed to address the two most cited reasons our officers leave,” referring to compensation and workload.
Humphrey also addressed the Board noting IAFF members’ support for the public safety proposal. “This is the plan that addresses our number one issue: compensation. Let’s give citizens a chance to say we support this plan.
Public Safety Proposal
Is the city council of the city of Joplin, Missouri, authorized to levy and impose annually, for municipal public safety purposes, upon all subjects and objects of taxation within the limits of its business a tax which shall not not exceed the one dollar maximum rate on the one hundred dollar assess appraisal?
More information about the public safety proposal will be posted on the city’s website at www.joplinmo.org/elections. City staff and citizens’ committee members would also be available to speak with groups wishing to obtain more information. Please contact Lynn Onstot, Public Information, at 417-624-0820, ext. 1204, if you are interested in having them at your meeting.
Voter registration is open until July 6, 2022 to vote in the August 2, 2022 election. Please contact the County Clerk’s Office in your home county for more information.