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Burris: Solve Budget Shortfall With Sales Tax Increase

Springfield’s new city manager outlined his proposal Thursday for how to solve the city’s under-funded police and fire pension plan. KSMU’s Jennifer Moore reports.
After just five weeks in office, city manager Greg Burris told reporters and citizens gathered in historic City Hall that the only way he knows to solve the city’s budget crisis is to create a one cent sales tax increase for the city.
As of the latest audit, Springfield is $167 million short of the amount it has committed to paying the retirement plans of city police and fire personnel.
Armed with detailed Powerpoint slides, Burris said the city has already made budget cuts, but that it’s not enough to cover the gap. He said the city is already feeling the hit, and that something must be done now.
Burris said the one cent sales tax increase would need to be approved by voters, and that it would exist for five years, or until the pension system were to be fully funded. He estimated that would generate about $40 million per year.
Burris said another part of the equation is for the City of Springfield to also increase its annual contribution rate by one percent for the duration that the sales tax is in effect. That would bring in an additional $240,000 per year.
Using other cities as examples, he said Springfield is not alone in its budget crisis. Many cities, he said, are deferring the problem for now.
Burris added that he wants to have the one cent sales tax increase on the ballot in February, which means the plan will need to be approved by City Council before November 25th.Several police and fire personnel were there to hear the presentation. Burris said he intends to spend the next month explaining the plan to various community groups.