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Supporters, opponents grapple over tax district for downtown Sikeston
SIKESTON, Mo. -- Community improvement district plans are 0-2 in Sikeston this year.
A community improvement district proposal for the Midtowner Village shopping center on Malone Avenue failed after coming up against opposition during its public hearing at the Aug. 1 city council meeting.
And following a public hearing during Monday's special Sikeston City Council meeting, opponents successfully argued against proceeding with the creation of the Downtown Sikeston Community Improvement District.
The proposal was submitted for approval as an emergency bill so the 1-cent sales tax that would have been collected within the CID could start in April.
Andrew Struckhoff, associate director for the St. Louis urban consulting firm Peckham Guyton Albers and Viets Inc., said the CID was proposed "as a way to gain a more sustainable funding source" for Historic Downtown Sikeston, a group making improvements and organizing events in the downtown area.
Based on current figures, it was predicted the sales tax would bring in between $40,000 and $45,000 per year, Struckhoff said.
On Oct. 3, Historic Downtown Sikeston presented a petition with the signatures of 34 property owners seeking creation of the CID.
During Monday's meeting, Donald Blizzard presented a petition with the names of 36 people who oppose the CID, 20 of whom are business owners, he said.
According to city records, there are 72 property owners in the proposed district.
Rayburn Evans of Rayburn Evans Glass said he is opposed to the sales tax because of the poor economy.
David Friedman, a property owner in the district, said 1 cent is too high for a sales tax right now.
"Money is tight," he said.
Melissa Leible, who serves on Historic Downtown Sikeston's design committee, listed several of the improvements the organization has made in recent years and said the CID is "an opportunity for us to continue projects."
"We have to think about the future," she said.
"I don't want to charge my people more tax," said Kim Byrd of the Tradewinds Trading Post.
"We've got to have some money," said Don Newton of Kirby's Sandwich Shop. "You can't have businesses downtown if everything looks like junk."
"I've been downtown for 26 years and I hope to be here another 26 years," said Terri Hurley of Bo's Jewelry and Pawn. "I think it's a positive thing."
Hurley asked how many people check on the percentage of sales tax before spending money in another town and said the 1-percent tax wouldn't deter customers "if you have the product they want."
Jim Bucher said he doesn't have a business in that area but as a resident has been "excited about some of the positive things that have happened downtown."
Bucher said he would like to see a more specific breakdown of what the funding would be used for, however, and opined the sales tax "is a bad deal for downtown."
He also objected to the division it was causing in the community.
"This is a highly emotional issue on both sides," Steve McPheeters said. He suggested they "look at other ways of funding" Historic Downtown Sikeston's efforts.
"You don't want to cause dissension," McPheeters said.
David Ziegenhorn, owner of the Garage Door Company, did not attend the public hearing but said following the meeting that he was opposed to the project because several of the largest employers in the downtown area do not collect sales tax. Ziegenhorn said he would like to see another funding mechanism implemented that all businesses in the district would contribute to.
The city council tabled the matter for 30 days and suggested property owners and merchants work together to find something they could agree on.