Voters won’t have the chance to decide if a 3/8-cent sales tax is the right way to improve the streets of Ozark. Due to a clerical error, the sales tax proposal that city officials have played up at public meetings and on the city’s official website won’t be part of the April election. “I didn’t get to approve the final ballots, and it was printed without (the tax proposal),” City Clerk Lana Wilson said. The mix-up marks the second botched ballot case in Ozark for this election. Last month, the city filed a lawsuit in circuit court to fix a mistake with a shortened term in Ward III. After a Friday evening board of aldermen vote and a quick fax from County Clerk Kay Brown, an uncontested race made it onto ballots in Ward III, but the sales tax for streets proposal is missing from ballots in all three wards. “When I got the sample ballot, it didn’t have the alderman for Ward III on it, plus it didn’t have the sales tax. I assumed that (Brown) would send me the original to approve,” Wilson said.
At a special meeting held Feb. 25, Ozark Mayor Shane Nelson and the city’s board of aldermen grappled with how they would “try to make the best of a bad situation.” Nelson asked city attorney David Collignon what it would take to get the proposal before voters next month.
“We would have to go back to the circuit court,” Collignon said. “We can file a lawsuit to correct the ballot to include the proposition on it.”
The company that prints ballots for Christian County would charge the city of Ozark $2,900 to reprint April ballots for its three wards. Absentee voting began when ballots were mailed on Feb. 19, with no sales tax proposal up for consideration.
City Administrator Steve Childers says a vote in the fall could be more than 10 times as costly as a ballot reprint.