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A trip to downtown Springfield could include dinner and a movie. But you may not know that a portion of your purchase is going toward keeping downtown appealing and clean. KSMU’s Nathan McVay traveled downtown to find out more on a tax which many Springfield citizens don’t know exists.
The effort to revitalize downtown Springfield is the main focus of the Community Improvement District, or CID. But many Springfield residents may be surprised to discover their tax dollars are funding the effort.Barb Baker is the manager of Springfield's CID.
“When you come down to eat or you come down to buy something, an extra quarter-cent will be attached to your purchase or your dining and then we collect that for the CID,” she said.The money from the tax goes toward the purchase of banners that line the streets. It also funds the CID’s two parking lots, allowing them to remain clean and free.There are two sources of funding for the CID. Property owners within the district pay an amount each year based on the size and profit of their businesses. The other source is a two-year-old quarter cent sales tax on all items purchased downtown. All businesses within the district’s boundaries charge a quarter cent sales tax. The boundaries stretch from Main Street to Kimbrough, and encompass downtown Springfield’s entire business district. Baker says the revenue from the tax, along with the property owners’ contributions help the CID function-- that function being the operation of their free parking lots, daily trash pick-up and downtown publicity.“It is just another funding source to keep the area clean, safe and friendly,”Baker said.In February of 2007, only voters living within the district were allowed to vote on the tax. That means fewer than 70 people voted for a tax that thousands of people have paid. “They were trying to state that anybody that comes in the district is going to benefit by having clean streets, the snow shoveled and banners. That was how that was approached,” Baker said. At least one downtown shopper had no idea he’d just paid the tax. Although Ed Nalike was surprised, he says he doesn’t mind.“It’s better for business if we keep it cleaner, nicer. More people will come down and come to each person’s shop. So I think it’s an important thing,” he said.The CID board determines how to spend the tax revenue. The board consists of property and business owners, along with registered voters in the district.For KSMU news,I’m Nathan McVay.