Smithville voters have the opportunity to pave the way for some overdue infrastructure improvements for their city on April 3.

Two questions await voters at the Smithville polls. The first asks for a half-cent capital improvement sales tax. The second seeks permission to issue general obligation bonds not to exceed $5.625 million for improvements throughout the city.

The proposed projects touch on public safety, recreation, downtown beautification and navigation, community walkability and city bridges. All projects under the tax plan have previously been identified by residents and stakeholders, who were part of a capital improvement committee, as improvement priorities.

Question 1 has a 20-year sunset, which means it will end in 2038 unless the city goes back to voters for an extension.

Question 1 requires a simple majority for approval, while Question 2 requires a four-sevenths majority. However, the two questions go hand in hand.

Voters need to approve both for either to be most effective.

Smithville currently has one of the low sales tax bases of surrounding cities, and will continue to do so even if the ballot questions are approved.

The city has not implemented a half-cent sales tax since 1989, yet in recent years city leaders have tried to give residents what they want, and what the city needs, using allowable reserves to begin or complete priority projects.

Since 2015, the western portion of Amory Road was rehabilitated; Heritage Park overflow parking and pedestrian access was created; Hawthorne Street and its underlying infrastructure has been replaced; Smith’s Fork soccer park and access work was started, with completion in 2018; and a generator was installed at the water plant.

Currently out for bid is what Economic Development Director Jack Hendrix calls the “biggest project in the city’s history” since the Corps of Engineers built the Smithville Lake Dam in the 1970s: main lift station work including adding an overflow basin and sewer interceptor for the southern portion of the city, costing about $8 million. The project will allow for millions of dollars worth of commercial businesses and other developments to come to Smithville.

To finish these projects and continue Smithville’s mission of “thriving ahead,” a “yes” vote on both questions is a must.

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