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The Carthage Press
  • Some residents oppose Halloween street closure

  • Voting against his own conscience, a Carthage City Council member was the lone vote opposing closing two streets to allow trick-or-treaters to walk without concern for traffic on those streets on Halloween night.Continuing a decision that started last year, the city council voted 8-1 to close Grand and Main streets fr...
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  • Voting against his own conscience, a Carthage City Council member was the lone vote opposing closing two streets to allow trick-or-treaters to walk without concern for traffic on those streets on Halloween night.
    Continuing a decision that started last year, the city council voted 8-1 to close Grand and Main streets from Macon Street to Centennial Avenue from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Oct. 31 to allow children to trick or treat without worry about traffic.
    Council Member Ed Hardesty said several residents of the neighborhood had approached him objecting to the inconvenience caused by the closure.
    Hardesty didn't name any of them, but he said a number had asked him to oppose it because it blocked access to their homes and it turned those streets into a “free-for-all zone for trick-or-treaters.”
    “While I personally agree with the closing and the safety for the children on the street, I have been asked by numerous residents in the area to voice my opposition,” Hardesty said in the meeting. “So in representing the folks in my district, I need to vote no on this when it comes up.”
    Mayor Mike Harris said the council intended to make the change permanent “at least for the foreseeable future.”
    Father Steve Wilson, pastor of the Grace Episcopal Church on Howard Street, spoke before the vote supporting closing the streets.
    “I think it's a remarkable  thoughtful decision on behalf of this body to make a sign, if I may, of good faith with the young people of this town,” Wilson said. “So I rise to congratulate you before you vote.”
    This will be the second year the city has closed those two streets to allow the Halloween tradition.
    In other business, the council voted 8-1 to approve a statement telling voters that, if they approve the use tax that will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot, that money will be designated to further the council policy, approved earlier this year in the city's budget meetings, to focus on city parks and work on the projects identified in a study currently being conducted by students of Drury University of the city's parks system.
    Budget Committee Chairman Jim Swatsenbarg said the committee voted for the language because “if we just tell the people that it's just going to go into the general fund, and not have a purpose for those funds . . . it would be more palatable if we tell them that yes, we are going to use those funds for parks and recreation.”
    City Administrator Tom Short said the statement would not reallocate any existing funds, but it will confirm the goals the council adopted in the spring to place a priority in the coming year or two on improving the city's parks.
    Page 2 of 2 - Council member Don McLaughlin voted against the council's motion, saying he believed it was misleading voters into thinking that the money from the use tax would be earmarked to parks, when it would actually still go into the general fund.
    The city lost a little more than $60,000 in the year or so after the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the state could not collect sales taxes on vehicles, trailers and other big-ticket items purchased in other states, but licensed for use in Carthage and other cities and counties that did not have use taxes already in place.
    The city is currently collecting that revenue under legislation passed by lawmakers this year and signed by the governor, but the legislation says cities and counties must put a use tax before voters in the two years after the law was signed or lose that revenue once again.
    Residents will vote on separate use tax measures that are equal to the sales taxes charged in Carthage and in Jasper County. The use tax is only charged on purchasers where the buyer does not pay sales tax at the place where they made the purchase.

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