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Carthage City Council to take final action on ordinance involving parks and stormwater tax increase

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CARTHAGE, MISSOURI - Tonight the Carthage City Council will take final action on an ordinance aiming to add a question to the August 4 ballot, on whether to increase the city's parks and stormwater sales tax.

City officials say a small increase can bring a large economic benefit to the city.

With 2,000 new library cardholders in just the past year, managers at the Carthage Public Library say it's hard to keep up with the continually rising expenses that come with expansion.

"We've had tons of maintenance issues, which have cost us a lot of money," said Julie Yockey, director of the Carthage Public Library. "We'd like to be able to move forward and do more programming, offer more programming for our patrons and be able to sustain the library at where we're at right now."

A proposed parks and stormwater sales tax increase would help the library to do just that.

City officials would like to see an increase from three-sixteenths of a cent to one-half of a cent.

"The parks and stormwater sales tax is pretty much what it sounds like, it's for parks and stormwater projects, and it does have the addition of the public library," said Mike Harris, mayor.

City officials say the current tax brings in between $380,000 and $400,000 yearly. 

The increased rate is expected to generate between $800,000 and a million dollars a year.

"We're still working on the split between the library and the city projects, but we want to be equitable to everybody," Harris said. "We're proud of all those items."

Harris says the revenue generated would help reduce flooding through stormwater infrastructure improvements, and would help to fund maintenance of the city's parks.

As for the library, directors say additional revenue is crucial to maintaining operations and continuing to grow.

"We've grown and we're proud of what we've got," Yockey said. "We don't want to go backwards. We want to keep moving forwards."

The ballot question requires a simple majority to pass.

If approved, the increased tax rate would be set for the next 20 years.
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