Branson voters will decide on public safety sales tax

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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - More money to keep Branson safe: that's the bottom line for a proposed new sales tax in the tourist town.

"It really is safety-driven for our residents, our businesses, and our visitors," Fire Chief Ted Martin said.

Martin says, currently, funds are tight. He says the lack of funding is making response times long and equipment in need of upgrades.

"This engine is approximately 21 years old," Martin said.

Public safety leaders say the fire and police departments need more space.

"I'll be the first one to tell you, I do not like taxes," Police Chief Stan Dobbins said.

However, Dobbins says he is convinced that a one-half cent sales tax is what the city needs to meet the growing demands of the growing city.

"The City of Branson, when it was first incorporated, it was 2.4 square miles. It is now almost 22 square miles," Dobbins said.

According to recent numbers, the tax would generate about $6 million per year. Dobbins says about 80 percent of that would come from tourists.

"To be quite candid about it, [that] is fair because about 80 percent of our services actually go for our tourists," Dobbins said.

With the November 7th election still several month away, city leaders says the next step is education, letting the public know exactly where their money would go.

"You'll see some things come from this that will support infrastructure, such as the construction of two new fire stations, potentially, a new police station that might be more central-city located," Martin said.

The money would also fund about 25 more firefighters, about 15 more police officers, and pay for needed equipment upgrades.

Public safety leaders say the goal is to keep Branson safe now and in the future.

"This is not a 'wish-list,' this is a 'we need to get this' list," Dobbins said.

If the new tax is approved on Nov. 7, Branson's total city, state, and tourism taxes will total 12 percent.