A first-reading bill was held at Springfield City Council last night that would provide the funding mechanism necessary for improvements to the Cooper and Killian sports complexes.
The $27.4 million funding package comprises $13.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act grant funds appropriated by the Missouri General Assembly, along with a local match of nearly $14 million, said David Holtmann, the city's director of finance.
The local match includes $5 million in fiscal 2023 general fund carryover funds and over $630,000 committed by the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau Inc. Holtmann noted that part of the carryover funds has been allocated to uses such as an increase in the city’s reserves.
"With this commitment of $5 million, with the increased requirement for our reserve fund and with our payment for the special election, that will take out the majority of our revenue carryover for fiscal 2023," Holtmann said, referencing the $250,000 cost for the special election today. "I just want to make sure everyone understands where we are as it related to excess revenues for the past fiscal year."
Council members were bullish about the funding package.
"This is a good problem to have," said Councilmember Abe McGull. "I think this is a prudent use of tax dollars. I'm just tickled pink that we're able to get the money from the state."
Councilmember Craig Hosmer agreed, calling the project "smart economic development" for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board facilities.
"This is going to be a great economic development project because I think it's a broad-based economic development that's going to help restaurants, hotels, motels, short-term rentals," he said. "I think it makes a lot of sense."
Council is scheduled to vote on the measure, which Holtmann said has "been in the works for over five years" at its Aug. 21 meeting.
Last November, the Park Board kicked off improvements to the Cooper and Killian sports complexes, according to past reporting. The project calls for synthetic turf at 19 soccer, baseball and softball fields at Cooper Park, stadium enhancements, additional spectator seating, locker rooms, restrooms, concession stands, accessible pathways and parking. When the project is completed, Cooper Park will have three anchor sports facilities: Cooper Tennis Complex, Lake Country Soccer Complex and the 11 baseball and softball fields that make up the Cooper and Killian sports complexes.
"This is transformational, no question about it," Park Board Director Bob Belote said at last night's meeting. "First and foremost, this is for our own kids and our own families."
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