Springfield Sales Tax Measure, 2009

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A Springfield Sales Tax Measure appeared on the November 3, 2009 ballot in Greene County for voters in the City of Springfield. The city mulled over two sales tax options either a 5/8 cent tax over ten years or a 3/4 cent over five years to present to voters. The sales tax measure was developed because the city was facing an estimated shortfall of more than more than $200 million in the pension fund and new revenue was needed to close the gap.[1] The 3/4 cent sales tax was estimated to last for five years before a vote for renewal would be needed.[2]

Election result

Springfield Sales Tax
Result Votes Percentage
Approveda Yes 12,965 55%
No 10,803 45%
Total votes 23768 100.00%
Voter turnout 0%


Background

According to city officials, under the proposed tax option the city would contribute 17% less, a total of 35%. The city had already cut $12.7 million from the budget to try and narrow the growing budget gap.[1] There was some confusion for voters in the wording of the measure, not understanding if the tax would be repealed or renewed after five years. This prompted the city to clarify the ballot measure wording, hoping that voters would make an informed decision; one that will help the city and not vote it down because they do not understand what is being proposed.[2] When city officials were asked what they would do if the tax was not passed, they declined to comment, stating that they had till next July before they had to deal with the tax, if it failed or is passed.[3]

Opponents to the tax increase released a flier with reasons of why residents shouldn't vote in favor of the tax increase. This led city officials to come out even stronger in favor of the measure. They refuted and corrected the 'facts' the flier proclaimed as truth. City Officials stated that the flier did not produce factual information but rather tried to skew the facts. One such 'fact' was that the tax would last "forever" because there was no set date of expiration in the ballot language. But city officialsstated that state law ensured a tax ends after five years and if there wasn't a new election to renew the tax then it automatically was not valid.[4]

In February 2008, a 1% sales tax for 5 years was proposed to increase the pension fund but it was defeated.[5]

References