Public Safety Sales Tax
OFFICIAL BALLOT PROPOSITION
Shall the City of Marshfield, Missouri, be authorized to increase its
general sales tax by one-half percent (1/2 of 1%) for the purpose
of improving public safety in the City, including, but not limited to,
hiring additional City police officers and staff, acquiring additional
police vehicles and related equipment, and constructing and
renovating facilities for the City's police department?
How Would Revenue from the ½ Cent Sales Tax for Public Safety be Used?
#1 – To Increase the number of Police Officers serving Marshfield.
Our Number 1 priority with this new funding is to improve the SAFETY of Marshfield’s residents. To do this, we will hire 4 additional Police Officers in 2024. During 2022, there were at least 200 hours per month where only one police officer was on duty. This means response times could be delayed and officers work without backup, which reduces both their safety and the safety of Marshfield residents.
With the annexation of the city into the Marshfield Fire Protection District in 2020, the City of Marshfield reallocated a portion of the funds previously used to support the city fire department to add 1 new Police Officer position. This brings our Marshfield Police Department to 12 officers in total. In comparison to other cities in Webster County, Marshfield has the largest population, with the fewest officers per resident, and the highest call volume per officer.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice2, “local police departments serving fewer than 10,000 residents had 2.8 full-time officers per 1,000 residents on average.” As shown above, we are far below that average. In addition, the population of Marshfield is growing. Currently, Marshfield’s population is estimated to be 7,540 and is predicted to grow at a rate of 1.08% annually3. This means that by the time we can hire additional officers from the revenue provided by this tax, our population will be more than 7,600. To meet the national average, we would need to add 9 additional officers to the Marshfield Police Department.
Identifying the appropriate number of police officers is a task that requires multiple viewpoints, an incredible amount of data, and an understanding of the public safety priorities within our community. Adding 4 officers in 2024 is necessary to ensure the SAFETY of Marshfield’s residents and the officers serving the City of Marshfield.
3https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/marshfieldcitymissouri/PST045222 , 1/20/2023
4 Missouri Department of Public Safety, Peace Officer Standards & Training
#2 – To Provide Marshfield Police Officers with Necessary Equipment and Training
Equipment needs are a significant and ongoing consideration for our department. Without proper equipment, our officers cannot adequately PROTECT Marshfield’s residents or themselves.
The largest need is our fleet of police vehicles. Marshfield Police Officers spend a considerable amount of time in their vehicles. This keeps the department visible in our community and helps to deter crime. The Marshfield Police Department fleet currently consists of 8 vehicles ranging from 2012 to 2019 model years and mileage of 22,000 – 145,000 miles. The officers take great care of their vehicles, which allows them to last longer, but the age and normal wear and tear is beginning to result in major repairs. In January 2023, the transmissions in 2 patrol vehicles had to be rebuilt which cost almost half of the entire year’s vehicle maintenance budget. The City of Marshfield has tried to replace 1-2 vehicles each year; however, this replacement plan has been interrupted by automotive supply chain issues. In December 2020, the Board of Aldermen authorized the purchase of 3 new vehicles; however, we have yet to take delivery.
With the addition of the revenue generated from the Public Safety Sales Tax, we will be able to reliably replace the Marshfield Police Department fleet in a more timely manner, expand the maintenance budget to a more realistic amount, and purchase 2 additional vehicle to accommodate the new Marshfield Police Officers discussed above.
We will use this additional revenue to purchase and replace important safety equipment such as duty vests and radios. We will purchase new in-car and body cameras to increase Marshfield Police Officer safety, reduce City of Marshfield liability, ensure transparency, and enhance training. In addition, we will invest in new less lethal tools and technologies and other tactical equipment which keep Marshfield residents and Marshfield Police Officers SAFE.
The Marshfield Police Department does not have the technology necessary to operate efficiently. Currently, there are a total of 5 computers in the Marshfield Police Department, 3 assigned to specific employees and 2 for all of Marshfield’s Patrol Officers to share. In addition, these systems are 5-10 years old and the operating systems of each will be under supported in the near future. With this revenue, we will replace all existing systems and add 2 additional computers to ensure all officers have access to computers for reporting purposes when necessary.
The State of Missouri has issued a mandatory increase in officer required training. In addition to the required training, the Department plans to increase officer training for mental health issues as they are present and a factor in a majority of the Department’s calls.
#3 – Renovation of the Marshfield Police Department Facility
The current Marshfield Police Department building needs extensive repairs and the space currently provided for police operations is not sufficient.
The Marshfield Police Department is located at 325 S. Crittenden. This 56-year-old building was never intended to be used as a Police Department, but has served Marshfield well since the city purchased the structure in 2001. Built in 1956, the north-west portion of the building housed an automotive dealership repair shop and is now the Marshfield Street Department. In 1967, the south-east portion of the building was added to provide showroom space for the dealership. This portion of the building now houses the Marshfield Police Department, Municipal Court, and provides storage for other city operations.
Significant repair of the building is needed and to foster efficient operations and expansion of the department is necessary. With a portion of existing cash reserves held by the General Revenue Fund and debt financing to be paid with a portion of revenue generated by the Public Safety Sales Tax, we plan to address these needs and renovate the existing structure. This will include replacement of the roof, repair of leaking walls, removal of any potential mold growth and other environmental concerns such as lead paint or asbestos, replacement of the HVAC system, and remodel of interior space to expand the portion of this building used by the Marshfield Police Department. This remodel will ensure the viability of the current structure and provide better police operations. In the future, there are plans to move the street department to a different existing location. Once that move occurs, we would convert the street department portion of the building to provide shelter for our fleet and additional operational space for the Marshfield Police Department.
We encourage you to take advantage of our virtual tour below, or if you would like an in-person tour, please contact Chief Doug Fannen:
Video tour coming soon.
#4 - Retention of Current and Future Marshfield Police Officers
It is critically important to attract and retain talented, knowledgeable, and community-oriented law enforcement officers to Marshfield. Having sufficient staffing, priority #1, necessary quality equipment, priority #2, and appropriate and efficient spaces for work, priority #3, are vital to this mission but there are other things to be considered as well.
Marshfield is fortunate to have 12 incredibly hardworking officers with a combined total of 170 years of law enforcement experience and nearly 100 years of dedicated service to the City of Marshfield. This team has developed under the direction of our Chief, Doug Fannen, and his Sergeants. We know Marshfield would not be the safe place we love, would not be the place you choose to live, work, shop, or raise your family if it wasn’t for the hard work of these individuals.
To retain this talent and the future talent we will recruit, we must focus on valuing police officers' contributions to our city through competitive pay, benefits, work environment, and development. The market (locally, regionally, and nationally) for police officers is more competitive than ever due to the shortage of qualified individuals to serve as police officers. We must value our staff, improve our facility, and provide adequate and up to date equipment and training to ensure these qualified individuals choose to stay in our community.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How does the City of Marshfield currently fund the Marshfield Police Department?
The money to support law enforcement comes from the General Fund, which is mainly supported through sales taxes. Unlike many other cities, Marshfield does not have a General Fund Property Tax levy. The General Fund monies also fund personnel and operations of the street department, building inspection and code enforcement, vicious animal response, municipal court, and general government such as administration, economic development, finance, etc. A summary of General Fund revenues and expenditures are provided in the table below:
2. How much new revenue will the Public Safety Sales Tax generate?
For every $100 purchase, $0.50 will be paid by all who shop inside the city limits of Marshfield, which includes outside visitors. It is estimated this new tax will provide approximately $800,000 of new revenue per year. While our expenditure estimates are still fluid and must be in the current economic conditions, we believe this will be expended:
3. If this new Public Safety Sales Tax is approved by voters, when would it go into effect?
The Public Safety Sales Tax will be effective on October 1, 2023. The City of Marshfield will not begin seeing revenues from this tax until December 2023 or January 2024 due to processing of returns and filing frequency of businesses located in the city limits.
4. When do I vote on this question?
Voting takes place on April 4, 2023.
5. When is the deadline to register to vote?
The deadline to register to vote on the Sales Tax for Public Safety is on March 8, 2023. You can register to vote online at the Webster County Clerk’s Office or online at https://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/goVoteMissouri/register.
6. Where do I vote?
You can find that information online at www.webstercountymo.gov or by contacting the Webster County Clerk’s Office at (417) 859-VOTE (8683).