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Joplin City Officials Debate Proper Taxpayers' Money Use - KOAM TV 7

Joplin City Officials Debate Proper Taxpayers' Money Use

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Joplin, MO -

Joplin City Councilman Phil Stinnettt agrees with many other City officials that grass is greener, and more efficient, with turf.

"It makes good sense from the economic standpoint of the maintenance of the field," says Stinnett.  "It also makes good sense from the standpoint that it's easier to work on and make it ready in rain situations.  So ultimately, I don't think anybody could have a decent argument that turf is not superior to just a grass field for the amount of playability that we would like to put in that stadium."

...Two stadiums, actually:  Joe Becker and Wendell Redden.  It's going to cost about $460,000 to turf both infields.  To help pay for the project, the majority of city council members want to use $340,000 of the City's parks and stormwater sales tax fund, a tax approved by voters in 2011.

Councilmen Stinnett and Dan McCreary object to the way these funds would be used.

"The town belongs to the citizens.  They have the right to decide where we're spending the money," says Stinnet.

Stinnett contends an essential approval by voters for this project hasn't happened.

Back in 2011, just before residents voted on the stormwater parks sales tax, the City made public a list of projects to be funded by the tax.  Turf for baseball fields wasn't on that list.

"When the tax was passed, yes or no, the people made their decision based on what was presented to them," says Stinnett.

According to City officials, stormwater parks sales tax revenue has been allocated for the original projects on that list.  Joplin City Manager Sam Anselm told us by e-mail that the City has met its commitment to voters promised in 2011.  

The majority of council members want to use money leftover in the sales tax fund to help pay for new turf.  It's a proposal that Councilman Stinnett says still needs approval from voters.

"Because of the fact that there has been so much controversy surrounding Joe Becker, and surrounding the ball team that left, I think it is too volatile an issue.  This is not the direction to go under those circumstances," says Stinnett.

Council members recently informally voted on this issue earlier this week.  But the deal will become formal and official once there's another vote during a regular city council meeting.  Stinnett says he will, once again, vote against this measure based on use of taxpayer funds.

The additional money for this project is slated to come from the City's cellphone tax settlement fund.

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