After months of discussing what to do about financing the operation of The Centre when the half-cent recreation sales tax ends the last day of this month, the Rolla City Council Monday night approved an ordinance calling for an election on a new quarter-cent sales tax in April.
“We’ve proposed additional wording and additional clarification,” Parks and Recreation Director Scott Caron said of the ballot question that was presented for first reading last month but was met with concern by at least one councilman who said the ballot language wasn’t sufficient.
Here is the amended ballot language that was presented to the council prior to the final reading of the ordinance:
“Shall the municipality of Rolla, Missouri, impose a sales tax of one-quarter of one percent (.0025) for eight years beginning October 1, 2014, then reduced to one-eighth of one percent (.00125) beginning October 1, 2022, the portion that expires shall be dedicated to capital maintenance improvements in the park system, the remaining one-eighth of one percent (.00125) shall be dedicated for parks and recreation operations and maintenance?”
With no further discussion, the council voted to accept the amendment, then heard the final reading of the ordinance and accepted it by an 11-0 vote. Councilman Tony Bahr, of the Sixth Ward, was the only council member absent.
The allocation plan presented at ward neighborhood meetings this fall was that half of the quarter-cent tax would be used for operations/maintenance and half would be used for capital improvements in the parks. In addition, the half for operations/maintenance was to be divided equally between the parks and the recreation center.
The amended ballot question addresses the specific purpose of the one-eighth cent that will sunset in eight years, but it does not require the other half to be spent equally on parks and recreation.
The quarter-cent tax is estimated to raise nearly $1 million per year.
A half-cent recreation tax will end Dec. 31. That tax raised the money for construction of The Centre and was also used to subsidize the operation of the facility because memberships and fees do not cover the costs. A portion of the quarter-cent tax being proposed is necessary to continue subsidizing The Centre.
Proceeds from that tax will also be used to diminish, though apparently not eliminate, the annual transfer from the general fund to the parks fund. A transfer of $200,000 is expected to continue to be necessary, according to information presented previously by Caron.
In other business or discussion at Monday night’s council meeting:
n Mayor Bill Jenks opened the meeting with a moment of silence to honor Mark Rolufs, former Rolla city councilman and former chairman of the Board of Public Works, who died Friday after a long battle with cancer.
Page 2 of 2 - n The council voted without dissent to authorize destruction of paper reports generated by the Rolla Police Department for the year 2000.
“They are kept on microfilm now,” which is the method approved by the Missouri secretary of state, Police Chief Mark Kearse said.
n After a lengthy discussion of peddlers and door-to-door salesmen, Jenks said he sensed that the council wanted the administration to come back with an ordinance regulating those businesspeople at a future meeting.
n A local bid from Sakelaris Ford for a new motor for a 2004 Ford F-350 used by the City of Rolla Fire and Rescue was approved. The bid was for $13,526.58, reduced by $3,000 for returning the core of the old engine, Fire Chief Robert Williams said. In addition, he noted, the truck is at Hutcheson Ford in St. James and Sakelaris included a towing fee of $100. Figuring in the fee and the discount for the core return, the Sakelaris bid is $10,626.58, Williams said.
Other bids were $11,560.08 from Hutcheson Ford and $18,528.80 from Auto Connection, Salem.
The cost will be fully funded with money from the Missouri Department of Homeland Security.
n City Administrator John Butz told council members they are invited to ride in the Christmas parade Saturday. Throwing candy from vehicles will be prohibited.
n The council adjourned into a closed session to discussion litigation.