A committee of residents is being formed by the Joplin City Council to push for passage of the city's half-cent sales tax proposal for the Police and Firemen's Pension Fund, which will be labeled on the Nov. 5 ballot as Proposition B.

Eight people were recommended by council members on Monday night.

Ted Easley, community manager of the American Cancer Society in Joplin and a retired television broadcaster, was nominated by Councilwoman Diane Reid Adams. Brandon Davis, a certified public accountant who has served on the council's finance committee, was nominated by Councilman Ryan Stanley.

Scott Vorhees, an attorney and a volunteer with Vision Joplin 2020, was nominated by Councilman Keenan Cortez. Lori Haun, director of Downtown Joplin Alliance, was nominated by Councilman Taylor Brown. Renita Kitchingham, a recovery counselor with Lafayette House and a supporter of the Joplin police and fire departments, was nominated by Councilman Doug Lawson.

Victor Sly, a former Joplin police officer who now works as an officer on the Missouri Southern State University police force, was nominated by Councilwoman Melodee Colbert-Kean; Dan McCreary, a businessman and a former member of the council, was nominated by Councilman Phil Stinnett; and Ken Copeland, retired Newton County sheriff and Joplin police officer, was nominated by Mayor Gary Shaw.

The council voted 9-0 at a meeting Monday night to accept the nominations.

The city question to appear on the Nov. 5 ballot will ask voters to authorize an increase the general sales tax by a half-cent and designate the use of that money specifically for the pension fund so that the fund can eventually be closed out.

The recommendation to ask for sales tax funding to bail out the underfunded pension plan came from an internal work group established by city officials to address the issue of police and fire recruitment and retention of employees.

The work group involves representatives of the fire and police departments and their unions, other city employees, administrators including the finance director, Mayor Gary Shaw, Mayor Pro Tem Stanley, and a consultant.

That group determined that $72 million is needed to close out the fund. The sales tax increase is to be proposed to sunset in 12 years or when the fund reaches a funded ratio of 120%.

Police and firefighters over the last two years have sought wage increases as a means to address a problem the departments experienced in attracting new employees. Firefighters said through the work group, they realized that the pension fund was a larger issue than pay in the recruitment of new workers.

Members of the Prop B committee will study the issues related to the ballot question and promote it to organizations and community groups as the election nears.

A first meeting date for the group has not yet been announced.

More slots?

More residents could be appointed to the group. Information can be obtained by contacting the Joplin city clerk at 417-624-0820, ext. 221.

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