The Cost of Progress

Nixa voters to decide if they want to increase the sales tax.


Provided by the City of Nixa

A new sports complex would feature four indoor basketball courts, a turf field, a fitness center and more.

What started as a small community would soon explode in population, growing to more than six times it’s size in thirty years. Nixa City officials have proposed a sales tax to accommodate for the growing population through public projects.
If passed, the city sales tax would increase from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent, and the added revenue would go towards building a three-story police station and a new sports complex. If the citizens of Nixa vote “yes,” people would pay an extra $1 for a $100 purchase. Drew Douglas, director of communications for the city of Nixa, said the tax increase will benefit public safety.
“This would allow the Nixa Police Department to expand their headquarters, hire more officers and be able to afford to invest more into our public safety to ensure that Nixa continues to be one of the safest cities in Missouri,” Douglas said. “This would also allow Nixa Parks to be able to invest in building a large indoor sports complex for hosting indoor sports not only for Nixa recreational leagues, but even to host regional sports tournaments.”
Over the summer of 2022, City Administrator Jimmy Liles brought an ordinance to the city council proposing to increase the sales tax. In August, the council decided to place the issue on the ballot. City Councilman Shawn Lucas voted to place it on the ballot for a couple of reasons.
“The first reason is, I think it should be up to the taxpayers to determine whether they have a tax increase or not,” Lucas said. “The second reason is that there is definitely a need for it. I feel like there is a strong need for an upgrade to our police department and to our sports and recs department.”
When state and county taxes are included, the proposed rate would be 8.475 percent, as opposed to the current 7.475 percent. District III City Council Representative Darlene Graham said she believes citizens should not be concerned over the slight increase.
“The cost of the proposed sales tax would be 1 cent for every dollar spent — that would equal $1 for every $100 purchase,” Graham said. “People don’t seem to mind dropping around $5.00 for a Starbucks drink.”
Nixa has not increased its sales tax since 1987, back when Nixa only had around 4,000 people. Now, with a population reaching more than 24,000, some think it’s time to upgrade it.
Other cities near Nixa, such as Republic and Ozark, have much higher sales taxes of 3.13 percent and 2.375 percent, respectively.
“If you look at the sales tax rates collected by other cities similar in population size to Nixa around Southwest Missouri, you see that they all collect more sales tax than the City of Nixa, which is why those cities have been able to invest more into public safety and parks and recreation amenities than Nixa, even though they serve smaller populations than Nixa,” Douglas said.
This proposal comes amid many updates and renovations to the Nixa area, including road improvements, an inclusive playground at McCauley Park and expansions to the high school such as the enhancement of Eagle Stadium and the construction of the Aetos Performing Arts Center. Although not all of these improvements come from the city, they still work together to make the community better.
“I kind of see this working for our parks department like the improved stadium and the Aetos center is helping Nixa High School with space for the activities that is needed and to also bring in some welcomed revenue which could be utilized by all of our city businesses,” Graham said.
The sports complex would bring tourism and commercial business to the areas.
“Economic development studies also show that such facilities attract more investment by businesses, which want to locate near the facility including possibly, restaurants, hotels, retail and service businesses, meaning Nixa residents may gain access to more new businesses which may not already exist within a short drive of Nixa,” Douglas said.
The new sports complex would likely be located in the southwest area of the city, in the same region as the high school. Graham presides over this district.
“With another sports facility the city could offer more opportunities for our citizens to enjoy the indoor sports they enjoy,” Graham said. “It would also offer our parks department the opportunity to host competitions for traveling teams which could bring in additional revenue and allow the parks department to expand their offerings to all of our citizens regardless of age.”
Lucas has previously coached K-6 youth leagues and recalls the struggle of finding gym time to teach fundamental skills.
“If you had a kid who’s never shot a basketball before, or never dribbled a basketball before, it takes more than two practices to help teach those skills,” Lucas said.
Lucas believes recreational leagues teach many valuable life skills and supports giving the program more funds and more space.
“Every kid should have the opportunity to play sports if they need it and the rec leagues are a great way to learn the fundamentals of the game,” Lucas said. “It helps teach teamwork, it helps teach kids some self-discipline as far as getting along with others and participating and sharing.”
In addition to having experience with the Parks Department, Lucas is a strong supporter of the Nixa Police Department. Last year, he participated in the Nixa Citizens’ Police Academy.
“It gives you a whole new perspective on what our police officers go through on a daily basis,” Lucas said.
Lucas said he believes the police are integral to maintaining a safe community, and a failure to pass the proposition may lead to a decline in safety and further staffing issues.
“People want to feel safe,” Lucas said. “If our community continues to grow and we do not increase our police department, and we do not support our police department, we will get to the point where our police department will not be able to continue to make our community feel safe. There will be too many calls that they won’t be able to get to, and there will be things that go unattended, and then there will be more crimes and violations.”
The funds would not only go towards a new police facility, but would also pay for the hiring of 11 new officers over the next five years.
“With our current staff, we don’t have the space that we need, let alone in 20 years when we have a need for 80 officers,” Lucas said. “So the new facility would not only accommodate what we need now, but also projects out to the future for what we’re going to need.”
Lucas believes this tax increase is necessary to help Nixa stay competitive with the surrounding communities.
“The biggest area that our city would continue to fall behind on is economic development,” Lucas said. “Without a strong police department that proves to keep our city safe, and without amenities that people want when choosing a city to live in, will prove to have a negative impact on our city as those economic opportunities will pass us by.”
To Lucas, the benefits of the sales tax increase are clear.
“In my mind, if I can increase our police department to the level that we need, if I can give them a facility that they’re not cramped in, that makes it easier for them to do their job and do it properly, and if we can fund a sports complex that’s going to not only fit our need now but give us opportunities to host events that can draw people to our community, then I’m in favor,” Lucas said.