JOPLIN, Mo. – Joplin’s future was a focus during Monday night’s city council meeting.
New Pension and Benefits Plan for safety officials
The top priority of the evening was a new pension and benefits plan for Joplin safety officials. The current pension plan is underfunded by nearly $24.1 million, so Finance Director Leslie Haase presented a strategy to impose a half-cent general sales tax. City leaders are hoping funds generated through this tax would lead to a boost in recruitment and retention of city safety officials.
“This is a recommendation from the work group that is comprised of the police and fire chiefs. And the police and personnel and the fire personnel and all of those parties. We all believe that this is the, the step that we need to take in order to address our recruiting and retention.”Leslie Haase, Joplin Finance Director
The half cent sales tax is estimated to generate $6.5 to $7 million annually. The sales tax will have a sunset expiring at 12 years or when the pension plan reaches 120 percent funded.
The proposed tax will go before voters this November.
Preliminary stages of Children’s Discovery Center
A Children’s Discovery Center was also presented to the council.
Targeted for a 2022 opening in Joplin, the Discovery Center would provide a hands-on learning experience for families and children targeting science, technology, engineering, art and math. The project will derive substantial income from admission tickets, memberships programs and retail. With an attendance potential from both residents and tourism, the Discovery Center is estimated at 68,000 to 91,000 as compared to similar facilities in the region.
This proposal is still in the preliminary stages at this point.
Major upgrades approved to Joplin Regional Airport
Bills were also approved for major upgrades to the Joplin Regional Airport.
The airport improvement program requests funding for complete reconstruction of the Delta taxi way that would cost more than $700,000. Airport aid from MoDOT was also granted that would go towards the regional airports social media footprint and new website design, both considered important for the Dallas and Chicago services. The final bill was a revised lease agreement with the freedom of flight museum at Joplin Regional. All were approved on an emergency basis.
“It’s an exciting time and and encouragement for the future of Joplin and for the airport being the front door of our community.”David Hertzberg, Joplin Director of Public Works
Council will hold public hearings regarding the 2020 fiscal year proposed budget on August 19th and for the property tax rate on August 26th.