Nixa City Administrator Jimmy Liles is warning of "difficult challenges" on the horizon after voters rejected a sales tax on the ballot this week.
Voters were asked by the city to approve a 1-cent general sales tax designed to fund nearly $40 million in proposed construction projects, according to past reporting. The city sought the tax to fund a $25 million, 80,000-square-foot indoor sports complex for the Nixa Parks & Recreation Department and a $13 million, three-story new headquarters for the Police Department. Another nearly $1 million in the proposal would have been added to the annual budget to staff 11 additional police officers.
On Nov. 8, roughly 52% of voters opposed the measure.
Liles, in an open letter to the Nixa community issued yesterday, said the city's budget is moving forward underfunded, meaning the community will have difficulty competing with some of its peers and may have to make departmental budget cuts.
"While we respect the decision of the majority of Nixa voters to maintain the current sales tax rate, unfortunately, this decision by voters means the municipal government now faces some very difficult challenges," Liles said in the letter. "The city of Nixa has not received the same sales tax increases our neighboring communities have, which is why they have been able to invest more into public safety and parks despite serving a smaller population."
Liles said for the foreseeable future the city now would not be able to afford the Police Department headquarters, indoor sports complex or new polices hires.
"Without significant additional tax revenue, we have every reason to anticipate deeper cuts to the Police and Parks departments in the coming years," he continued. "We have already cut many capital improvement projects from our spending plan, and we will need to cut more of those projects from our future plans. You can expect to learn more about which cuts will be made specifically for the 2023 budget during the next few city council meetings."
Liles additionally said city staff and council members are evaluating the election results and considering development plans to present in the future.
A pair of area medical colleges that received state grant funding in the fall are now investing the funds toward technology and new programs with the intent of attracting more students to the nursing profession.