There is not a plan for what to do with Memorial Hall if voters do not approve a proposed bond issue of up to $30 million for renovation and expansion of the historic building.

A member of the Memorial Hall Citizens Committee, Pete Hall, of the Southwest Missouri Lodging Association, asked city staff at a committee meeting Thursday what happens if the bond issue does not pass.

Leslie Haase, the city’s finance director, said, “I don’t think we have an answer now.” She said the final decision on the hall’s future would then be up to the City Council.

The amount of the renovation, with the addition of an annex on the west side of the building, was placed at $25 million by SFS Architectural of Kansas City, the consultants who did the feasibility study and renovation plan.

But at a City Council meeting last year Haase said that bonding consultants for the project recommended that up to $30 million be requested in the ballot language because escalating building costs could drive up the project’s cost or there could be other unforeseen costs. The ballot language also allows money to be used to create more parking for the hall. If none of those costs are incurred, the city would only use the $25 million, she said.

Election

Voters will act on the question in the April 5 election. It will require a 57.14% majority rather than a simple majority to pass.

If approved, the bonds would be issued for 20 years and be paid by property taxes and personal property taxes.

Haase said real property taxes would be 29 cents per $100 assessed value, or for example, about $55.10 annually on at home with an appraised value of $100,000. Personal property taxes would be $19.33 on a $20,000 vehicle, she added.

Committee member asked if an increase in property taxes would conflict with city action years ago to rescind most property tax. Haase said that action does not apply today. She said this will be the first addition to property taxes in years. “But Memorial Hall was built on a bond issue and it makes sense to go that route again,” Haase said.

This year, Joplin residential property owners will pay city property taxes of 17.46 cents per $100 assessed valuation and a property tax that goes to operate the Joplin Public Library at 24.53 cents per $100 assessed valuation. Together, the two taxes would be 41.99 cents,

Together, the two taxes would be 41.99 cents on each $100 of assessed value, or for example, $79.78 on a home with an appraised value of $100,000.

Questions about long-term maintenance of the remodeled hall were asked. Committee members wanted to know how that would be handled since the condition of the building has deteriorated over the past several decades.

Haase said there is a plan to provide for that. She said that since the building has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, it would be eligible for tax credits toward renovation costs. Those tax credits would be sold and the money would be deposited in a fund designated only for hall long-term maintenance.

Tonya Sprenkle of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce said there will be a presentation on the project and the ballot measure to the chamber board. The board will be asked to activate a chamber PAC, Businesses for a Better Joplin, to raise money for election advertising. The city is not allowed spend tax money to promote an election question, the committee was told.

The city’s committee will present information about the proposal to community groups in the weeks before the election.

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