Residents skeptical Joplin city government doesn’t already have funds to pay for police and fire improvements

Joplin City Manager Nick Edwards

The phrase ‘public safety’ and what it includes was a hot topic at a community meeting Wednesday night discussing Joplin’s Proposition Public Safety.

Residents questioned the measure’s wording, which doesn’t explicitly say the tax increase would go towards police and fire. Another concern to lifelong resident Abbie Covington is that the city currently has the funds to pay for the multi-million dollar tax hike.

“I’m looking at our emergency funds. Now we’re required to keep a certain amount in our emergency budget, but we have 5.9 million dollars extra over that amount, so that would cover our police officers, at least. They are only asking for just under 5 million.”

If approved, the tax would create a new 9-million dollar revenue fund in Joplin to hire 22 new police officers and 18 new firefighters, in addition to increasing salaries for current staff. It would allow greater stability among police and fire ranks. 67 percent of Joplin firefighters have less than two years of experience. Election day is August 2.

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