The Citizens' Commission on Community Investment will provide a recommendation on a potential sales tax measure to the Springfield City Council by June 30, 2024. (Graphic by Shannon Cay with photography from Dean Curtis and Jym Wilson)

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Over the next few months, a newly formed commission will consider a potential sales tax measure to put before Springfield voters.

On April 8, the Springfield City Council unanimously approved a resolution establishing the 30-member Citizens’ Commission on Community Investment. The commission is tasked with “evaluating and prioritizing the highest and best uses for local sales tax capacity following the expiration of the city’s ¾-cent Pension Sales Tax on March 31, 2025.”

The Pension Sales Tax, which generates about $45 million a year, is exclusively dedicated for the Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Pension System. The pension was near insolvency when the tax was first approved in 2009, but is now over 90% funded. Though obligations remain, a new sales tax — to replace rather than to renew the Pension Sales Tax — has been viewed as an opportunity to fund other needs in the city, as well as continue to pay into the pension.

Variety of backgrounds on 30-member commission

The commission, which was assembled from potential names recommended by City Council members, will be led by co-chairs Phyllis Ferguson and Tom Prater. Ferguson is a former Zone 1 City Council member, and a staunch advocate for north Springfield. Prater also previously served on the City Council, representing Zone 2, as well as the Springfield Board of Education. Current council members Matthew Simpson and Abe McGull will serve on the commission as the City Council liaisons.

The following individuals, representing various interests, have also been named to the commission:

  • Logan Aguirre, publisher at 417 Magazine;
  • Christina Angle, chief financial officer and vice president of Group Services at the Erlen Group;
  • Kevin Ausburn, chairman and CEO of SMC Packaging Group;
  • Alice Barber, a leader with Springfield Tenants Unite;
  • Brent Brown, managing partner at Greenway Development Group;
  • Megan Buchbinder, marketing director at the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau;
  • Jerome W. Compton, former City Council member;
  • Teresa Coyan, chief of staff and vice president of government relations at CoxHealth;
  • Orin Commings, pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church;
  • Chad Davis, Springfield firefighter and president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 152;
  • Leslie Forrester, executive director of the Springfield Regional Arts Council;
  • Denise Fredrick, former president of the Springfield Board of Education;
  • Brendan Griesemer, executive director of Restore SGF and former assistant director of Planning and Development for the City of Springfield;
  • Bill Hennessey, vice president of Mission at Mercy;
  • Sandra Huston, a Springfield neighborhood leader;
  • Winter Kinne, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks;
  • Andrew Lear, former City Council member and a retired partner at FORVIS (Lear is also a member of the board of the Hauxeda);
  • Sid Needham, former member of the Springfield-Greene County Park Board;
  • Eric Pauly, current member of the Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission;
  • Steve Prange, project manager and senior vice president at Crawford, Murphy & Tilly;
  • Pete Radecki, former chair of Springfield’s Neighborhood Advisory Council;
  • Jacob Ruder, executive director at Business Council of the Ozarks;
  • Krisi Schell, executive vice president of human resources at SRC Holdings Corporation;
  • Jeff Schrag, founder of Mother’s Brewing Company and a member of the Missouri State University Board of Governors;
  • Rusty Worley, executive director of the Downtown Springfield Association;
  • Andrew Zinke, Springfield police officer and president of the Springfield Police Officers Association.

Council unable to agree on specifics for a new tax

Mayor Ken McClure announced the formation of the commission on March 27, six months after the City Council first discussed a possible sales tax measure and less than three months after council members reached a general consensus of what they would like to see funded under a new tax. 

Though they were unable to agree on specifics — hence the need for the commission — the City Council concurred on the need for a possible sales tax to help meet the city’s obligations to the pension, fund public safety initiatives and help realize the vision of the Forward SGF comprehensive plan.

The group will consider the performance history of the pension, public safety data and capital project priorities of Forward SGF, while establishing an order of priority among the recommendations.

Springfield City Council at its Nov. 20, 2023 meeting at the Springfield Regional Police Fire Training Center. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

“We need to make sure that we're meeting our promise with the pension. We also need to make sure that we're supporting our current officers, supporting public safety initiatives and investments in our community moving forward,” Councilmember Matthew Simpson said. “This is our chance to do so.”

The resolution charges the commission to bring a final report and recommendations to the City Council by June 30, 2024, which would give council members just under two months to consider and approve a potential tax measure in time to make the November ballot.

The commission’s recommendations will include whether to ask for a tax and, if so, the proposed tax rate, the timeline and duration of the tax, clarity of short-term and long-term costs and accountability measures.

The commission will meet every other week through June, with the first meeting scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on April 16 in the Busch Municipal Building.

Prior to the approval of the resolution, James Meadows, an attorney with the Carnahan Evans law firm, called the proposed commission a “blue ribbon panel,” and suggested that two-thirds of the commission be made up of police officers and firefighters represented by the Springfield Police Officers Association and Southern Missouri Professional Fire Fighters.

“When the public approved this, the public was thinking of helping and protecting the police officers and firefighters,” Meadows said. “And while there are many worthy causes that the city has many important goals, if we are going to consider renewing this tax and asking the people of Springfield to renew the tax, I think there needs to be a high level focus on the needs of the police and fire department rank-and-file officers and firefighters.”


Jack McGee

Jack McGee is the government affairs reporter at the Hauxeda. He previously covered politics and business for the Daily Citizen. He’s an MSU graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism and a minor political science. Reach him at jmcgee@hauxeda.com or (417) 837-3663. More by Jack McGee