THAYER -- A one-half cent sales tax will be on the April 7 Municipal Election ballot in the city of Thayer. The tax will go only for law enforcement.
This means for every $100 spent in the city, 50 cents will be added to that $100.
"The police department realizes the city budget is tight. There is a definite need for this money in our department and we understand that our department has needs that cannot be met by the city," Thayer Police Chief David Bailey said.
The police chief said, as well as his department faired during the late January ice storm, it could have served the citizens better if needed equipment had been available at the police department.
"During the ice storm we had to borrow a generator from the Howell Rural Fire Department just to keep our doors open. We had one vehicle that would go on the ice, a 1999 jeep that has 135,000 miles on it and the frame has been welded back together. Nearly all of the officers used their own vehicles and worked many hours of overtime that they don't expect to be paid for," he said.
"The citizens of Thayer are fortunate to have a seven day a week, 24-hour a day police department. Along with West Plains, we are the only police department in our area that can offer fulltime protection. It has been proven when people are researching a place to relocate, they look for a McDonald's, a Walmart and a fulltime police department," he said.
Bailey said the tax will be more difficult for some than it will be for others. "I certainly realize for the amount we are speaking about it will prove to produce big dividends for the city," he said.
Bailey said crime never sleeps. "There are new threats on the horizon and only so many hours in a day when you can focus on the challenges facing the city. With additional revenue to face the years to come, needed training and proper equipment with advanced technology will help the residents of Thayer sleep better at night. It is a matter of being proactive versus reactive or passive versus aggressive," Bailey said.
The police department currently works on a $250,000 budget. If the tax should pass it would generate approximately $200,00 a year.
"That means three or four years down the road the police department may not need as large a budget as we are now receiving from the city. That would free up needed funds that could be used by other departments," Bailey said.
"Our department would be accountable for the revenue generated by the tax. Our department has voluntarily cut our fuel cost by 10 percent in an attempt to use funds more efficiently," he said.
The department currently works with six fulltime officers and four fulltime dispatchers/jailers.
Bailey said his department was kind of at a crossroads. "Are we going to go backward or are we going to go forward? We can't rely on Washington, D.C., for funding. We need to get ourselves in a position where we can take care of ourselves," he said.
Bailey said this is an opportunity for the people of Thayer to have, if not one of the best, the best police department in southern Missouri. "Our officers need a lot more training if we are going to be a good police department. Right now we are just meeting state requirements. We need reliable vehicles and needed equipment such as handheld radios and a new surveillance and security system at the police station," he said.
"The increase in tax is not popular with any of us. But I hope our citizens will ask themselves, 'What is it worth in an emergency to pick up the phone and ask for help and have an officer respond in seconds versus having have one get dressed and come from his home?' Where will our police department be in 10 years?" he said.