I have always believed that Joplin has a strong community spirit. We are a people willing to offer help whenever a need arises. Joplin police and firefighters make that spirit a profession. The men and women of those services spend each workday ensuring this community is a safe community.
Let’s not take that ever-present commitment for granted. Just as we expect police and firefighters to be available as needed, they should likewise be able to count on citizen support. It simply makes sense.
On Tuesday, Joplin voters have the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to those who protect and serve us by voting yes on Proposition B.
Proposition B institutes a temporary half-cent general sales tax that completely funds the closure of the current self-managed pension and allows us to transition to the Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement System, a plan authorized at the state level rather than at the local level. It is a plan already used by a number of other Missouri cities and a few of our own city’s departments.
Additionally, shoppers from other cities and states contribute to the service while visiting Joplin as they purchase goods here. It frees up dollars in the general city fund that can be used for other priorities.
City staff members estimate that this change could potentially reach a $28 million savings over 20 years. Currently, they project the pension will cost the general fund $3 million next year.
Regardless of decisions we may have made as a city historically, or the unknown influence of a future economy, we deserve the professionalism that comes with experience. The men and women serving us every day deserve to be fairly compensated now, and to know when their careers are complete that they have a livable pension. Unlike most of us, Social Security is not provided to police and firefighters when they retire, so the pension we provide is the core of their retirement planning.
Despite any unknowns, our common sense tells us that we are more secure when we share responsibility with other cities. Moving our self-funded, self-managed pension to LAGERS offers more security. The members in the current plan agree. Approximately 98% of them voted in favor of this proposed change.
Our firefighters and police officers strive each day to keep us safe. They take care of us. A "yes" vote on Joplin’s Proposition B on Tuesday shows them we are likewise willing to take care of them.
Please go to your local polling station and cast a "yes" vote for Proposition B. It really is a better plan for Joplin, and it just makes sense.
Theresa Wachter is co-chair of the Prop B Citizens Task Force.