Vision Joplin 2022 recently reported to the Joplin City Council that many of the initiatives pursued by the committee have been achieved; there are, however, important goals that remain.
First, let’s recognize the successes of Vision Joplin 2022.
Health and wellness were a key area that produced good outcomes. The group sought a prescription drug monitoring plan that our state has repeatedly failed to establish, so the city established one for Joplin in late 2017.
The city passed rules setting the age for purchase and use of tobacco and vaping products at 21 in December. Extension of the city’s trail systems is ongoing, and the group continues to advocate for extending and connecting bike and walking trails.
The deadline also was extended for the city to establish a revenue district to fund cultural arts and museums under the Missouri Museum and Cultural District Act. The group worked to establish the Creative Learning Alliance that is working to start construction on a discovery center for children here by 2024. The Early Childhood Education Center built by the Joplin School District is another project that was backed by the group.
But some items on the group’s list remain to be accomplished. Passing a use tax to offset revenue lost to the city as shopping moves online is one of the measures.
Another item unaccomplished is to have Joplin undertake a proposal to increase the city’s 4% lodging tax to 6%. There is significant potential revenue there, given that the average national lodging tax total is around 14%. Missouri’s 4.2% accommodations sales tax plus a 6% city lodging tax would still remain well below that number at 10.2%.
The stated intention for the Vision Joplin lodging tax proposal is to pay for construction of a multiuse indoor sports venue. Other uses should be considered. Such a venue would be a boon to the area, but the city should consider at least one other purpose for the tax. This newspaper has advocated for the restoration and renovation of Memorial Hall, the venue built nearly 100 years ago as a tribute to veterans who had died in World War I and other wars.
Wouldn’t refurbishing that historic structure be an appropriate purpose for some of those funds?