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Sales taxes that fund part of Republic Parks and Recreation projects and operation could be up for renewal on Aug. 2 ballot

Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 5:47 PM CDT
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REPUBLIC, Mo. (KY3) - On the same day that voters were going to the polls for the April 5 election, the Republic City Council was taking its first look at the possibility of keeping a pair of quarter-cent sales taxes by putting them up for renewal in the August 2 election.

The sales taxes are separate ordinances but both relate to money used to fund the Republic Parks and Recreation Department.

The council will decide in their April 19 meeting whether or not to send those two sales tax renewals to voters.

“One of those sales taxes is for our general operation and the other is designated for capital improvement projects,” explained Jared Keeling, the Parks and Rec Director as well as Assistant City Administrator for Republic. “They are both renewals so there would be no increase in taxes. One was passed in 1990 originally and one was passed in 2003 so it’s no new taxes.”

The two quarter-cent sales taxes are up for renewal because within the next year Republic will be paying off the $8.8 million debt on the town’s community and aquatic centers and will now turn its attention to new capitol improvement projects that surveys have shown residents want.

“One of those is expansion of the aquatic center to include a lazy river and several other features,” Keeling said. “There’s also the development of a large regional park that would contain a sports complex, 8-10 baseball fields and 10-12 soccer fields. And the last one is community event space and a farmer’s market. Just a place for the community to come and gather.”

In addition to the capital improvement sales tax the other sales tax pays for 27 percent of the parks and rec operating budget.

So if the council decides not to put the taxes up for renewal or voters turn them down in August?

“For capital improvement projects we would just postpone them for a while,” Keeling answered. “For the general operations we’d really have to do some thinking on how we could either generate more revenue or cut expenses.”

Lynette Hornung is one of the many patrons who goes to the community center. At one point she was wheelchair-bound with a host of health problems but she’s improving after spending five days a week at the center’s indoor track, work-out areas and arthritis classes.

After one of several laps walking around the indoor track, Lynette said what she really likes about the center is the staff.

“They talk to me a lot and I like to talk,” she said with a laugh. “They’re excellent people here.”

Yes, to Lynette the ability to visit with others is just as important as exercising.

“They go together,” she explained. “One without the other won’t work.”

Keeling concurred, pointing out that back when COVID-19 was isolating people, many residents turned to going to the park.

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned from COVID it’s that the value of local parks is higher than it’s ever been before,” he said. “And historically speaking our parks and sales tax initiatives have passed anywhere from around 60-70 percent. That speaks to the popularity of our park system and we’re very grateful for that.”

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