- Living in Ozark
- Local Use Tax - For Public Safety
Local Use Tax - For Public Safety
On November 8, Ozark citizens will have the opportunity to vote for a new city ordinance, a local use tax for public safety purposes at the same rate as the total local sales tax rate. The revenue will be used to meet facility needs, services, equipment, compensation and training.
Shall the City of Ozark, Missouri, impose a local use tax for public safety purposes at the same rate as the total local sales tax rate, currently 2.375 %, provided that if the local sales tax rate is reduced or raised by voter approval, the local use tax rate shall also be reduced or raised by the same action?
Local Use Tax for Public Safety Fast Facts:
- Revenue from this Local Use Tax would be used to assist in the operation of the Ozark Police Department, including but not limited to; meeting facility needs, services, equipment, compensation and training.
- Use tax applies to purchases made outside the taxing jurisdiction but used within the state. Use tax is a complementary or compensating tax to the sales tax and does not apply if the sales tax was charged.
- The Local Use Tax for public safety will only be used to help fund the operation of the Police Department and come not be comingles with non-public safety city funds.
How Would Revenue From The Local Use Tax- For Public Safety Be Used?
Although our beautiful city encourages new officers to come to the area, not being able to provide certain amenities and necessities is dampening our ability to attract new talent to the Ozark Police Department. As the city population increases, so must our police presence to maintain the same level of policing we have all become accustomed to. The Ozark Police Department has authorized 37 sworn police officers and 6 non-sworn police officers. Ozark has seen a 17.7% population increase over the past decade, with estimates showing a 3.2% population increase this year alone. We need to increase our force by approximately 20% to meet state and federal recommendations. 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 of community stakeholders (citizens). This can be completed by analyzing the population, calls for service, or organizational workload.
With these studies in mind, Ozark Police Command Staff recommends that the appropriate staffing level for the Ozark Police Department in 2022 is 45 police officers. Currently, with our 37 officers, we have approximately 1.9 officers for every 1,000 citizens. The average in the Midwest is 2.2 officers per 1,000 citizens. Nationally it is 2.3 officers per 1,000 citizens. With 45 police officers, we would still be below the average by having 2.1 officers per 1,000 citizens; however, we would be much closer to our goals of being more involved with the community and reducing crime.
To retain talent, we must focus on valuing police officers' contributions to our city through competitive pay, benefits, work environment, and equipment. When we hire a new Ozark Police Officer, it costs us approximately $15,000 to hire, equip, and train a new staff member. We must do everything possible to ensure we are retaining the staff we are able to hire. 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
The current seventy-year-old police headquarters located in the Brick Street Plaza was never intended to be used as a police station. The facility is just over 6,000 sqft and has been used for numerous other businesses, mainly retail. OPD remodeled and moved into this facility in 2005, and the building was significantly cramped for the staff size at the time. In 2010, the facility underwent a small remodel, and in 2015 a significant remodel was done. Another third smaller remodel was accomplished in 2021. Even with these improvements to the facility, The Ozark Police headquarters is still unable to foster an environment that assists us in providing exceptional public safety services.
We currently have 35 officers, and we need to increase our force by approximately 20% to meet state and federal recommendations and to meet the workload which is produced by our growing population. There are three (3) Patrol Sargents sharing one(1) desk, and our evidence clerk does not have an office but rather a desk in the Evidence Vault, which is not best practice. With no access to showers or proper locker rooms, female officers and male officers must go home to shower and clean off any hazardous materials they may have been exposed to throughout the day. Current, 10 - 20 year projections show that our police facility needs to grow up to 200% in some areas.
The police department shares this building with the Public Works Department and the City's Legal Department. Parking is limited for both the public as well as employees. There are 34 shared parking spaces and two(2) handicap spaces. The Ozark Police Department must park their personal and police vehicles on the street near the department. There is no secure parking for police vehicles to be parked and secured, which is needed to protect the city's assets purchased with taxpayer money.
With the age of the building, there are many ADA requirements that we are failing to meet. An effort to meet these requirements at the current facility would be costly. We want to ensure that all our community members feel capable of coming to us with their concerns, and our existing facility makes that problematic.
We encourage anyone who would like to come take a tour of the police department.
Please come see us during any of these upcoming events at the Police Department;
October 5 - Coffee with a Cop at 9 am
September - Open House - TBA
October - Open House -TBA
November 4 - First Friday Coffee with the Ozark Chamber
- Office Space - Currently, the Police headquarters has nine(9) traditional offices, four(4) of which are being shared. We need approximately need 20-25 offices.
- Locker Rooms - Currently, our facility does not have showers or proper locker rooms for officers to clean/ decontaminate after shifts or after coming in contact with hazardous fluids
- Restrooms - Currently, Ozark Police headquarters has four(4) small bathrooms (two(2) men and two(2) women), which are not ADA-compliant.
- Parking - The Ozark Police Department shares 34 parking spots with Public Works and Ozark Legal Department. Staff need at least 30 secured parking spots with additional unsecured spots for employee vehicles, visitor and citizen parking
- Training & Meeting Rooms - Current headquarters do not have any designated training or meeting rooms for staff. As a department, officers train nearly 2,400 hours annually. Currently, Training must occur at outside venues around town and are subject to the venue's availability.
- Storage - There is currently a subsequent lack of storage in the facility. Ozark Police Department presently utilizes multiple storage sites around the city for these things, which leads to inefficiency and ineffectiveness.
Equipment needs are an ongoing consideration. The biggest equipment need is the OPD fleet. Currently, our fleet consists of 31 vehicles that are utilized for service nearly every day and four(4) special purpose/ reserve vehicles used which are used infrequently. Officers spend almost 80% of their shift in their vehicles, so we equip them to be mobile offices.
Officers spend this much time in their vehicles to be visible in the community and to deter crime.
Our patrol fleet consists of 19 vehicles, which average approximately 25,000 miles annually. The equation for police vehicles versus routine vehicles is to multiply the mileage by 3-4x. Once a patrol vehicle approaches 100,000 miles, it is cycled to support positions.
Our support fleet consists of 12 vehicles, which are used in investigations, training, administration and animal control services. These vehicles are higher mileage, usually 100,000+ and have already been cycled out of patrol. Typically, support vehicles average approximately 15,000 miles annually.
*Every year, we must buy 5-6 police vehicles to maintain our current fleet management program, costing $280,000.00- $360,000.00 annually. If not, we are driving
Other equipment needs include:
- Body Worn Cameras (not currently used)- current opportunities would cost approximately $65,000.00 annually
- License Plate Readers (not currently used)- current opportunities would cost approximately $2,500.00 annually per unit
- Thermal Imaging (not currently used)- current opportunities would cost $5,000.00+ annually
- Drone Program (not currently used)- current opportunities would cost $5,000.00 annually
We hope to expand our ability for more community outreach, do more things with the Citizen Academy, and have more opportunities to assist Ozark businesses and citizens. The Ozark Police Department strives to be a community-oriented police agency.
Some of the key areas we would like to expand would be;
- Designated Crime Prevention Officers who focus on proactively preventing crime in our community,
- Develop effective Neighborhood Watch programs throughout the city by working with Home Owner Associations, business owners/ business districts,
- Expand our Embrace a School program where specific educational programs can be developed for students, including elementary, middle school, high school and our college students at OTC- Richwood Valley,
- Expand community training programs such as Citizen's Academy, Hero in Training (Youth Police Training), Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), Active Shooter Crime Free Multi-Housing and Protecting House of Worship.
- Implement community training programs such as Women's Self Defense, Bike Safety, Pedestrian Safety and others,
- Evaluate and implement potential Explorer Program or other volunteer service programs to capitalize on the talents and support we receive from our community.
- If approved by voters, when will the Local Use Tax for Public Safety go in to effect?
The Local Use Tax will be effective on the first day of the second calendar quarter following the Department of Revenue Notification. Based on that it would be effective or start collecting on April 1, 2023.
- How much additional revenue will the Local Use Tax for Public Safety generate?
Unfortunately, there is no way to know for sure. The Department of Revenue doesn’t keep track at this point. However, Nixa (which is similar in size) generated approximately $500,000 in 2018 the first year they had a Use Tax.
- Do other cities in Missouri have a Local Use Tax ?
Yes, a number of our neighboring cities such as; Springfield, Nixa, Willard, West Plains and many more. There are more than 230 cities across Missouri that have established a Use Tax.
- Why is a Local Use Tax for Public Safety so important for The City of Ozark?
"This month I would like to take the opportunity to talk about the growing needs of our Ozark Police Department. Did you know that the Ozark Police Department’s female officers, do not have their own locker room or changing area? The Ozark Police Department has outgrown its facility. As the city population increases, so must our police presence to maintain the same level of policing we have all become accustomed to. The City of Ozark has seen a 17.7% population increase over the past decade, with estimates showing a 3.2% population increase this year alone. To meet state and national recommendations for our current population, we must hire ten or more officers. Our current police facility does not provide adequate accommodations for the 35 officers we now employ." - Mayor Bradley A. Jackson, Ozark's Newsletter September Issue
The Mayor touches on just one of the many growing needs our Police Department faces, a new facility. A new facility would give our award-winning police department the much-needed space to do more in-house training and community outreach.
- When do I vote on this question?
Voting takes place on November 8, 2022.