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Morning Sun
  • Sales tax increase OK'd on second try

  • For the last two months, and even beyond, the Pittsburg City Commission has said there is just no money to do street repair.

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  • For the last two months, and even beyond, the Pittsburg City Commission has said there is just no money to do street repair.
    After Tuesday’s general election, that will change.
    By an unofficial margin of 600 voters, Pittsburg voters passed a .25 percent citywide sales tax that is expected to generate about $500,000 for each of the next five years.
    Under the language of the question, the money generated from the sales tax increase can only be used for street repair and maintenance and will only be available for five years before it sunsets.
    “We had a lot more support from people in the community,” said Pittsburg City Commissioner Marty Beezley. “There was an effort to show people that we had a plan.”
    Beezley had been a long supporter of the sales tax increase, saying that was the fairest way to generate money for deteriorating city streets.
    Over the last two years the city has seen a decrease in the overall expenses for the street department and had to transfer $200,000 out of the city’s general fund in 2010 to help fund street repairs.
    One person who breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday night was Pittsburg Director of Public Works Bill Beasley.
    “I really didn’t know for sure what would happen,” Beasley said. “I was hopeful and I thought we did a better job of getting the word out.”
    The measure failed during the August primary election, but city officials took the chance to put the question back on the November general election ballot. But city officials felt that it was a calculated risk to take.
    “My thought was that we had to do something,” Beasley said. “There wasn’t any funds to do anything. I don’t know if it was a gamble as much as we needed to do something.”
    This time around, the difference was the message, Beezley said.
    “A lot of people in the community helped us the second time around,” Beezley said. “It shows that working together, we did a better job of making people aware that there was a problem.”
    The money generated from the new sales tax increase may not be on the city’s rolls until midway through 2011.
    Regardless, city officials like Beasley said they can sleep a little easier now knowing that there is a funding mechanism in place to help with street repair.
    “I can rest a little easier now knowing that we are going to have funds to do what we need to get done,” Beasley said. “It’s a relief.”
    Matthew Clark can be reached at matthew.clark@morningsun.net or at 620-231-2600, Ext. 140.
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