Joplin executives discuss ‘Public Safety Proposal’ measure – Newstalk KZRG

The “Proposal Public Safety” campaign has officially started in the town of Joplin.

The property tax measure will go to voters on August 2. Officials say its passage will improve the recruitment and retention of Joplin police and firefighters.

At a news conference at the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, city leaders said the measure will implement a property tax of $1 per $100 of ASSESSED value for real estate and personal. This means that for a $150,000 home, the homeowner’s property tax bill would increase by $285 per year. For someone with $30,000 of personal property, that would be $100 a year.

Joplin Police Chief Sloan Rowland said if passed, the measure would help address the need their understaffed department faces. “I think the main objective is to fix wages. We can talk about recruitment, retention and workload, but this is directly related to salaries and compensation. It’s what keeps people here, it’s what brings people here, it’s what brings enough officers to the streets to ease the workload they’re under right now.

The Southwest Missouri Fraternal Order of Police says the measure will keep the town of Joplin safe for decades to come.

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Joplin Police Chief Sloan Rowland talks about the need for increased funding to increase public safety needs.

The proposal only needs a simple majority to pass on Aug. 2 would raise about $9 million a year to provide those increased pay scales for police and firefighters.

“There’s not enough revenue in the current budget to actually make the salary increases to make us competitive,” Rowland said. “Not only are we not regionally competitive with Northwest Arkansas and other areas of Missouri, but we’re not locally competitive, so I’m losing agents to regional departments that are very close to us.”

Rowland says a recent allocation study recommended that they need 22 additional officers in the town of Joplin to adequately handle the current call volume. “When you take the 22 officers we need new and add the 21 openings I currently have in the department, that’s 43 people to do the job effectively.”

Calling it a “breaking point” for his officers, Rowland says “when you’re talking about overworked individuals, forced overtime, shortages on the streets… there’s obviously a safety factor when you don’t have not enough officers to respond effectively to a call, not only is it risky for the officer, but it is a matter of safety for the citizens.

Rowland says he’s had to cut spending in many different areas, and it’s not just the police who are suffering.

Fire Chief Gerald Ezell says the most important thing for him and his department is to get a downtown fire station back online near 15th or 20th Streets. He also says that they are severely understaffed at the moment.

Fire Chief Gerald Ezell
Fire Chief Gerald Ezell

Former Mayor Mike Seibert says this is a public safety crisis. He also realizes it’s a tough time to ask the Citizens for a proposal, but Seibert says that’s their reality, saying they’re stretched.

Jeremie Humphreys, president of Joplin Professional Firefighters, said action was needed now. “Previously considered one of the largest fire departments in Missouri, we can no longer continue to operate the same way by doing more with less…it has become very difficult due to low wages, the declining staff and increasing workload.

Humphreys says Joplin firefighters have been ringing the alarm bells for the past 20 years. “These problems don’t simply go away if they are ignored. We have now reached the point where our best efforts cannot make up for the lack of trained firefighters, low salaries and understaffing.

Jeremiah Humphrey
Jeremie Humphrey speaks to the media in support of the public safety proposal

The official question you will see on the ballot will look like this: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 maximum rate of one dollar on the one hundred dollar rates appraisal? »

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