1/2-cent sales tax to fund economic developer position
THAYER -- On Nov. 8 Thayer residents will go to polls to vote for or against a 1/2-cent sales tax. According to the Thayer Community Betterment Association (TCBA), the 1/2-cent sales tax would generate approximately $175,000 annually.
The money from the revenue would go toward funding an economic developer position in the city.
The city of Thayer hired Heather Wakefield as economic developer in 1998. During her time working in that position she obtained over $1.5 million for the city in grants and funding. "The results over her nearly four years in that position included a major renovation of downtown sidewalks, electrical infrastructure, drainage and decorative lighting. Other improvements over the past four years include a major sidewalk project from the high school and new elementary school to the downtown business area, a larger water line under Highway 63 to supply adequate water to the industrial park, larger intersections and improved lighting on the north and south side of Highway 63," said TCBA President Bob Eckman. He said the new Tourist Information Center and Railroad Museum next to McDonald's would be open soon. "These projects would have never been accomplished without the help and cooperation between the economic developer, the mayor and city council. The city provided needed equipment and labor to match the state requirements," Eckman said.
Eckman made the point that every city surrounding Thayer has an economic developer and mentioned the cities of Cabool, Houston, West Plains, Willow Springs and Mountain Grove. "The city originally hired Wakefield through a three-year grant program," Eckman said. "Mayor Deckard and the council are in full support of this issue and see the need for Thayer to benefit from such a tax. We all feel a sales tax is the fairest method of collecting revenue to fund this project."
Eckman said Thayer's overall sales tax is less than any city around. "Even with the increase of 1/2 cent, the tax would still remain at or below the tax rate of cities nearby. If you spend $250, it would cost you an additional $1.25. If you spend $1,000, your tax would be an additional $5. We feel like it's very little to pay for the future of Thayer," he said.
Eckman said the TCBA has been assessing the community for over five years and many of the things the people have requested have been accomplished. "We still need more jobs for our young people who graduate. We cannot accomplish this without a developer who spends full time seeking grants and funding to make thinks happen. We must continue to beautify our city. We cannot stay the same. We either grow or dwindle. We must preserve the pride in our community," he said.
Eckman said the TCBA has taken the lead role to provide information to the community and answer questions about the tax issue. He said they have a Power Point presentation available and plan to visit various organizations and clubs during October to educate the community.
The TCBA Board of Directors consists of President Eckman, Vice President Harvey Allen, Secretary Dennis Redmon, Treasurer Sam Currier, Allen Deckard, Jim Hart, Ron Cornelius, Shiela Smith and Donna Franz.