Is Joplin’s Proposition Action the way forward?

FRED FLETCHER-FIERRO (HOST) : It’s Morning Edition on KRPS, I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro.

While the election will be held next Tuesday, November 2 to understand the possible scope of Joplin’s Proposition Action you need to travel back to July of last year. (KRPS’s Fred Fletcher-Fierro has more)

Joplin City Manager Nick Edwards was conducting a city-wide listening tour to try and better understand what Joplin residents wanted from their community. I spoke with Edwards in late November of 2020 regarding the results of the listening tour. He said it provided him with two takeaways.

Joplin City Manager Nick Edwards

NICK EDWARDS (JOPLIN CITY MANAGER) : One is a desire to have better job opportunities. Things that can help improve economic mobility. The other section was this thought of more retail development. There’s this desire from residents to have better retail choices and not have to drive to other major metros.”

Edwards’ survey was brief, only having five questions. Over 1,400 residents responded with 7,000 comments. The survey asked, what made Joplin special? What could the city do better? What residents saw as opportunities? The largest threats? And where residents saw the city in 5,10 and 15 years.

The results of the listening tour were presented to the City Council, who helped with creating action plans. The survey revealed that the Joplin residents wanted their community to look better, address declining neighborhoods and homeless, make the city safer by reducing crime, while improving economic development and to be resilient against economic downturns.

The solution, Proposition Action, and a 3.125% Use Tax. Appearing on KGCS’s Newsmakers recently, Edwards explains how it works.

Rob O’Brien

NICK EDWARDS : The Use Tax is a tax on online purchases that have been shipped to Joplin. It’s not a new tax, it’s a tax that’s existed for a while. The use tax would change the responsibility from the buyer to remit sales tax and put the responsibility on the seller.”

Currently, if you make a purchase in Joplin you pay a variety of taxes, including 3.125% sales tax. Although, if you make that same purchase, online, you don’t pay that sales tax. Edwards says tax collection for Joplin could be significant if the measure passes.

NICK EDWARDS : “We don’t have an exact number, we can only make an estimate. From what we’ve seen in other communities, they’ve experienced between an 8 and 15% increase in their sales tax. And for the city of Joplin that would be that would nearly $3 to 4 million dollars.”

Statewide, more than half of the cities in Missouri have such a tax. Rob O’Brien, Chairman of the Committee for Proposition Action says it would be beneficial for small business owners.

ROB O’BRIEN : “I think when you look around the landscape, certainly, we have small businesses that would like to see a little more parity or equity with those online sellers.”

Joshua Shackles

Josh Shackles is a community organizer in Joplin who closely follows city politics. He’s in favor of Proposition Action.

JOSH SHACKLES : “You know this is a really important opportunity for the people of Joplin to get some of the things that we’ve been asking for.”

Josh works with the city’s homeless population and understands the concerns of Joplin residents like himself who want to improve the city’s appearance and liveability. Shackles says this could be a generational vote that decides whether people choose to live in Joplin.

JOSH SHACKLES : “It’s mind-blowing to me that this hasn’t happened so far. I really think that it’s a matter of getting the right message out to people so that they understand what it is that we’re voting on and how this is going to benefit our community for a long time.”

We’ll find out on Tuesday whether that connection was made, and if not, what’s next for Joplin. For 89 9 KRPS, I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro

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