Voters may be asked next year to extend Cape Girardeau’s transportation sales tax for another seven years rather than the traditional five years, Mayor Bob Fox said at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.
The city’s transportation sales tax was approved by voters in 1995 and has been extended every five years since then to pay for specified projects.
Fox said extending the tax for seven years would raise about $35 million for transportation projects compared to $25 million for a five-year period.
“It may be time to consider six years or seven years,” he said, adding the additional funding would allow the city to complete more projects.
The council is looking at placing a tax-extension measure on the April ballot to fund various transportation projects, including street repairs and reconstruction.
An advisory committee formally made its recommendations at the council’s study session.
The committee has recommended eight to nine projects totaling $10 million, depending on how much money would be earmarked for the Veterans Memorial Drive project.
Committee members offered two proposals for extending Veterans Memorial Drive from Hopper Road south to the Route K area.
One option would be to spend $2.3 million on design, property acquisition and dirt work for future extension of the north-south street from Hopper Road to the Route K area. The second option calls for budgeting $200,000 for engineering work only.
Besides the Veterans Memorial Drive project options, the advisory board recommended:
* Sprigg Street reconstruction, Southern Expressway to Shawnee Parkway/Highway 74, $2.95 million
* Lexington Avenue reconstruction, Carolina Lane to Sherwood Drive, $1.2 million
* Lexington Avenue reconstruction, West Cape Rock Drive to Sprigg Street, $1.2 million
* Bertling Street concrete repairs, Perryville Road to Big Bend Road, $1 million
* College Street, extension, from Minnesota Avenue to West End Boulevard, $800,000
* Route K school corridor improvements, $500,000
* Maria Louise Lane/Kiwanis Drive/Broadview intersection study, $50,000
If only engineering work is budgeted for the Veterans Memorial Drive project, a second section of South Sprigg Street, from Shawnee Parkway to William Street, could be reconstructed at a cost of $2.1 million, committee chairman and former Mayor Harry Rediger said.
Advisory committee member Tamara Zellars Buck urged the council to reconstruct both sections of Sprigg Street.
Street reconstruction would include new sidewalks, which Buck said are needed for the safety of pedestrians.
“We want to see economic development,” said Buck, who is one of the leaders of a south Cape Girardeau revitalization organization called PORCH, which stands for People Organized to Revitalize Community Healing.
“We need the entire street done,” she said, adding it could uplift the entire neighborhood.
Renita Green, pastor of St. James AME Church in Cape Girardeau, asked the council to support street projects benefiting the city’s “vulnerable people.”
Rediger said committee members and the public were divided over how much to spend on the Veterans Memorial Drive project.
“We did not punt on this thing,” he said of providing two options. “There are a lot of pros and cons,” he told the council.
The committee, he said, did not feel the Transportation Trust Fund 6 plan should budget the entire $6 million needed to complete the Veterans Memorial Drive project.
Rediger said the public in online responses and two public meetings made it clear they want the city to focus on street repairs.
The five-year plan, outlined by the committee, would budget $13 million for street repairs or $2.6 million a year, Rediger said.
Voters in August extended a capital improvement sales tax for 15 years to fund various projects. Among other things, it will provide $500,000 a year in added funding for street repairs.
If voters extend the transportation tax next year, the city will have $3.1 million annually to spend on street repairs for the next several years, Rediger said.
Coupled with the major reconstruction projects, 88% of the tax dollars would be spent on fixing streets, according to the committee.
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