The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

September 17, 2013

Pittsburg voters pass sales tax measure

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Pittsburg voters approved a half-cent sales tax increase on Tuesday that will be earmarked for additional staffing and new equipment at the city’s police and fire departments.

The measure passed with 767 “yes’’ votes to 502 “no’’ votes, according to Crawford County Clerk Don Pyle. A simple majority was needed for passage. About 12 percent of registered voters turned out.

“I feel relieved,” said City Manager Daron Hall after the results were announced Tuesday night. “But you know, we’ve got a lot to do now. I’m glad we put it to the voters, and I’m very thankful to the voters for passing it. I’m happy for the staff who worked hard on this; we’re ready to go.”

Starting Jan. 1, the increase will raise the sales tax in Pittsburg from a combined local, county and state rate of 8.4 cents to 8.9 cents. Hall anticipates it will generate $1.8 million per year for the 10-year life of the tax.

For the police department, $800,000 annually will pay for an additional five patrol officers and a dispatcher, two detectives and a commander for the investigations unit, and a narcotics unit manned by three officers. Additionally, $300,000 will be used annually to pay for crime-solving technology.

For the fire department, $200,000 annually will be divided among a $75,000 per year, 10-year lease purchase on a new front-line pumper truck; 10 sets of breathing apparatus per year for an annual cost of $67,500 to replace breathing apparatus that is nearing the end of its life cycle and must be phased out; and seven sets of bunker gear per year at an annual cost of $17,500 to replace aging gear. It also will pay for individual and departmentwide training for a cost of about $4,000 per year.

The remainder of the annual revenue — about $500,000 — will be placed in emergency reserve to fund future increases in salaries, pension and insurance for the new staffing positions.

“Gosh — it’s really hard to put into words — it really is very exciting,” said Pittsburg police Chief Mendy Hulvey after learning of the measure’s passage Tuesday night. “I think obviously staffing has been a long-standing issue for the police department, and we are so thankful the citizens of Pittsburg recognized our limitations and turned out to support a plan to address it.”

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Index Report has for the past five years ranked Pittsburg among the top five cities for crime. Hulvey attributes that not just to its population but also to it being in a border county, near Interstate 44 and home to a high percentage of lower-income residents.

Acceptable state and federal staffing levels suggest an average of 2.3 officers per 1,000 residents. In Pittsburg, there are about 1.9 officers per 1,000.

Hulvey said Tuesday night that at a staff meeting earlier in the day, the department discussed the possible ramifications if the sales tax measure passed and if it didn’t.

“The officers, the commanders are ready to hit the ground running. We’re ready to get out on the streets and see what kind of impact we can have,” she said.

Fire Chief Mike Simons said Tuesday night that he was excited about the measure’s passage.

“And I really need to say thank you to the community for supporting this initiative. This is going to really enable us to improve our response to the community, but also our safety overall — not just for fire, but also for police,” Simons said.

He plans to create committees to begin developing specs and getting bids for gear and equipment purchases, and to plan training exercises.

“That process will probably take several months. A good goal would be to have that finished by the first of the year, and then we can move forward rather quickly once the money is available,” Simons said.

Provisional ballots

According to Crawford County Clerk Don Pyle, a few provisional ballots will need to be counted, but they likely will not affect the election’s results. The votes will be canvassed on Monday.

1
Text Only
Top Stories
  • r071014newbiz5.jpg Study examines costs of starting businesses in area towns

    When Firehouse Pottery opened in Joplin this spring, it was just one of the hundreds of new businesses that launch in the Four-State Area each year. Charity Hawkins, a Joplin native, said she and her husband “wanted to do something that would be great” for their hometown and decided to open a business that catered to both youths and adults. But starting a new business is a high-risk gamble.

    July 12, 2014 3 Photos

  • 070114 St Mary's cross 3.jpg Crucifix returns after three-year absence

    The original crucifix at St. Mary’s Catholic Church has come home. It had hung behind the altar since 1968, until the 2011 tornado destroyed the church and nearly everything in it, along with the nearby rectory, school, parish center and more.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joplin High School construction ‘fast, furious’ in homestretch

    Will Joplin High School be ready for classes next month? It’s a question that is being asked of Superintendent C.J. Huff almost daily now, and he said Friday that the project is still tracking for an Aug. 25 opening. “I’m over there almost every day, and the transformation is remarkable,” he said.

    July 11, 2014

  • Local libraries target early childhood literacy with state program

    Local libraries are reporting great success so far this summer with the Racing to Read program, an early childhood literacy initiative from the state. The program, established by Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, is designed to help strengthen and expand the quality and availability of library services to address early literacy needs in Missouri.

    July 11, 2014

  • 071314stmarysmove.jpg More than 100 volunteers turn out to move school to its new permanent home

    Staff and students of St. Mary’s Elementary School have been through a lot of changes together since their old school at 505 W. 25th St. was destroyed in the 2011 Joplin tornado. Second-grade teacher Bette Schoeberl said the temporary quarters were cramped and that it was sometimes hard to move around. On Saturday, Schoeberl and other staff members moved into their new school building.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071114 Mustang1_72.jpg Mustangs roll into Joplin for Mother Road Weekend

    Amanda Massey, of Joplin, gasped when she saw the 1968 fastback Mustang. “This is gorgeous — simply gorgeous,’’ she said. “I have always wanted an old Mustang.’’ With family members in tow, Massey had an opportunity Friday to examine a herd of wild and colorful Mustangs that muscled its way onto Main Street in downtown Joplin for the Mustang Mother Road Weekend.

    July 11, 2014 3 Photos

  • Free Agency-LeBron.jpg LeBron James says he’s returning to Cavaliers

    LeBron James is going back to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Four State Farm Show gearing for 40th year

    The annual Four State Farm Show, which brings thousands of farmers and ranchers to the area, has grown into a mall of agriculture over the past 40 years.

    July 11, 2014

  • LeBrons Desision Cleveland.jpg LeBron James returns to Cavs: ’I’m coming home’

    If LeBron James was going to win another NBA title, heal broken hearts and continue building his legacy, he knew there was only one place to go. To Ohio. Home.

    July 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • Carver Day activities planned at monument

    Nearly 1,000 people will descend on George Washington Carver National Monument Saturday for the 71st annual Carver Day ceremony.

    July 11, 2014