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Joplin residents may soon give input on future improvements from sales tax

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Joplin residents might soon have a chance to give input on what improvements they would like to see on area roads.  It would be part of a process to renew the city's capital improvement sales tax.

Many times, cities use grant money to help fund or completely fund infrastructure improvements.  But Joplin city officials say having a sales tax to generate revenue specifically for road improvements helps guarantee work can be done.  That includes both major and minor projects.

When it comes to roads, Joplin residents like Korey Jennings have a firm stance.

"You have to be able to get around to be able to do business," says Jennings.

When it comes to taxes to fund maintenance of roads...

"It's a necessary evil," says Jennings.

"There's a lot of data that if you don't maintain that surface, keep water from infiltrating through the surface, getting into the sub grades, the cost to maintain it jumps exponentially after about seven to ten years," says Joplin Public Works Director Nick Heatherly.

Joplin has had a three eighths of a cent capital improvement sales tax since 2005.  

City officials say without it...

"We would not have the resources to do major street widening projects," says Heatherly.

That includes projects like the one going on right now on Schifferdecker Road.  Previous students estimated 14,000 drivers a day use this road.

A $5.1 million railroad bridge project on Connecticut Street, allowing traffic to flow underneath, was completely funded by the capital improvement sales tax.

"A community is able to leverage other funding," says Heatherly.

That includes funding to help pay for major projects like the Zora interchange.  Joplin used about $3 million of capital improvement sales tax funds.  MODOT picked up the rest of the tab, which was about $7 million.

The capital improvement sales tax generates about $4.5 million a year, and has funded about 18 road improvement projects in Joplin over the last ten years.

But the tax is up for renewal this year by city council.  Residents will have a chance to give input on a new set of projects.

"Definitely need to work on some of the railroad crossings.  I think some of them are pretty rough," says Jennings.

And Jennings hopes the tax is given another green light.

City officials say the capital improvement sales tax also funds resurfacing streets throughout the city.  City officials want every street in Joplin in need of repair or update to be addressed within a seven year time period.

The sales tax will need to be recommended by a city board, called the Capital Renewal Committee.  It'll then need to be approved by city council, and then approved by voters.  

Watch the associated video to learn about how you can offer feedback.

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