From your local election headquarters, a Southwest Missouri community will soon decide the fate of a proposed Parks and Rec sales tax. Voters in Lamar are being asked to cast their ballot in regards to a half cent sales tax to support improvements to facilities managed by the Parks and Rec Department.
The tax is expected to generate more than three-hundred thousand dollars a year. And Mayor Kent Harris says because of the roll these facilities play in the town’s future, improving them is a priority.
“We have a lot of businesses that might be looking for a place to land, and Lamar, certainly, we want that to be one of them. And in order to do that, you have to have those amenities there as well for the families of the people that are going to be making those business decisions,” says Kent Harris.
And Lamar Parks and Recreation Director Heidi Johnson says they try to make sure those folks have a lot to choose from, and not just with the two city parks.
“Also included with parks and recreation is our Lamar Aquatic Park, Moore Pavilion, the Thiebaud Auditorium, Lamar Youth Athletics, and the Lamar City Lake,” says Heidi Johnson.
To make sure those facilities are as up to date as possible, johnson says they’re asking voters to say “yes” to a half cent sales tax.
“It’s a tax that the state allowed to be enacted in 1995, and since then about 204 communities in the state have passed it, over half of those are the size of Lamar or smaller,” says Johnson.
Johnson says while the parks do play a large role in bringing people to the town, they don’t necessarily generate that much in the way of revenue on their own. She says this tax would take care of that, and even help the city in other ways.
“With the tax money we’ll be able to pull some of the budget for parks out of the general fund, and then more general fund money can be used for infrastructure things,” says Johnson.
Which Harris says is all part of a much larger plan to continue growing the city.
“We never take it for granted, the amenities that we have, and we’re always looking to upgrade those, it’s just become and increasingly larger challenge in order to meet those amenity needs that we have,” says Harris.
Along with the parks, the proposed tax would also be used to support future improvements to storm water drainage.