In 2006 the City of Ozark asked the voters if they would support a 1/2 cent sales tax to generate revenue sufficient enough to purchase land and construct a new community center (the OC), and they said YES!
The OC has been a huge success for the citizens of Ozark. It is generating enough revenue to sustain itself and its operating budget beautifully. However, the "mortgage" on the OC is paid by sales tax revenues generated from the 1/2 sales tax initiative passed in 2006.
Unfortunately, the economy collapsed at the end of 2007, resulting in an overall sales tax downslide of 11.7% between 2007 to 2010. Therefore, the revenue projections made in 2006 have fallen short of the annual bond debt(mortgage) payment on the Community Center. The City of Ozark has had to subsidize the OC mortgage payment by cutting the budgets of other departments such as Police, Streets, Economic/Community Development, and General Administration to the tune of $950,000 over the past 3 years.
The Harsh Reality
Without the passage of the April 5th Special Election to extend the sales tax sunset date, the City of Ozark will have no choice but to consider cutting public services and jobs in the areas of Police, Street Maintenance including Snow Removal, and Development Services which generate much needed economic sales tax growth. Case in point, if this doesn't pass, the 2011 deficit between the OC annual mortgage payment and 1/2 cent sales tax revenue is $250,000, which the City of Ozark simply doesn't have.
We MUST refinance and get our annual debt payments reduced, but cannot do that without proving to the bank we have the means to make our payments past 2026.
The Key Facts
Voting "Yes" will NOT increase the cost of a local purchase. This is NOT a new tax but an extension of an existing tax. What does this mean in plain terms? When we go to the grocery store and purchase a gallon of milk, the price of that gallon of milk will not increase at all.
We are not borrowing MORE money....we are simply refinancing to spread our payments out and lower our payments to an amount that is financially within the means of our current sales tax revenue. This is no different than refinancing your home to reduce your monthly payments.
The reason there isn't a specific year for the NEW sunset date is because the City of Ozark has learned that there is no way to accurately project sales tax revenues and, therefore, setting a "projected" sunset date is unrealistic. We are simply using the "Original Debt Paid In Full" as the new sunset date.
The City of Ozark cannot borrow additional money using this sales tax as collateral. It is only to be used to pay off the "Original" amount of financing.
We do not have an option to "NOT" make our full Debt payment. That would destroy our Bond Rating Credit and the City of Ozark would never be able to get a decent interest rate for future water, sewer, street, etc., capital improvement projects.
I encourage everyone to educate themselves on this issue and learn the facts for themselves. If you have further questions, you may contact Steve Childers, City Administrator, at 581-2407.
You may also attend a public forum conducted by Steve Childers at the OC on March 29th, 2011, from 6-7 p.m.
About the author: I am full-time REALTOR® with RE/MAX Solutions in Springfield, MO, and a member of the Greater Springfield Board of REALTORS®. I have helped hundreds of families in the Springfield, Nixa, Republic and Ozark real estate markets, whether buying a home, or selling a home. Visit my website to search for All Springfield MO Area MLS listings. Want to know what our market is like? My website is also an excellent resource for current Springfield MO Area Real Estate Market Reports, as well as current market reports for Ozark, Nixa, Republic, and Rogersville.