The 2020 U.S. Census will be crucial in setting the state of Nixa and the rest of northern Christian County’s growth over the next decade.
That’s the message that several key community leaders put forth at the 2019 Nixa State of the Community dinner, an event organized by Nixa Public Schools and held at Nixa Junior High School on Oct. 29.
Nixa Mayor Brian Steele discussed a growth trend in one of Springfield’s largest suburbs that traces back to 1990. New home construction continues at a rapid pace.
“2019 has concluded our nearly three decades of incredible growth in Nixa. We’ve seen an additional 247 homes in 2018, and we’re on pace to surpass that in 2019. In 2018, this number was enough to make us the fastest growing community in southwest Missouri, and I hope this will continue as we move into the future,” Steele said.
With new homes come new residents, and with new residents comes a demand for services like roads, utilities and recreation opportunities. The U.S. Census is used a measuring tool by government agencies at the local, state and federal levels to allocate resources.
“Those residential numbers are important as we move into the 2020 census. The upcoming census will be vital as we look to get a complete and accurate count of all of the residents in Nixa. Those numbers impact how much money we receive back from our federal tax dollars and also what kind of representation we have at both the state and federal levels,” Steele said.
Steele said the U.S. Census also impacts commercial economic development.
“Businesses look to see what kind of growth we’ve had over the last 10 years,” Steele said.
Data from the 2020 U.S. Census will be used by Nixa city employees, elected city council members and special committee members to create a vision and roadmap for Nixa’s future.
“The city is working on a five-year strategic plan. We’re also working on a comprehensive plan for the entire community. We want to identify innovative ideas on how we can improve, not only as a city, but as a community,” Steele said.
Christian County Presiding Commissioner Ralph Phillips said that resource allocation can be difficult.
“We are the fastest growing community in the state of Missouri and have been for several years consecutively. With that comes the challenges associated with our infrastructure, business development and other associated factors,” Phillips said.
The county government is almost completely dependent upon sales tax revenue for funding. While Nixa and the rest of Christian County’s population is climbing, sales tax revenue numbers have stagnated.
“Our sales tax is flat. We all know about it; it’s a statewide issue, and maybe even a national issue with online sales,” Phillips said. “Though we have growth, most of our growth is single family dwellings. For infrastructure—more than 80 percent of our revenue to keep up with the infrastructure is based on sales tax.”
Phillips finds hope in an economic development partnership between Ozark, Nixa and the Christian County governments called Show-Me Christian County, now in its second year. The organization operates from an office inside Nixa City Hall.
“I feel this organization is going to be a critical element for our success as we meet these challenges with the lack of sales tax revenue,” Phillips said.
Both Steele and Phillips encouraged everyone in attendance at the Nixa State of the Community event to fill out their 2020 U.S. Census, and to do so accurately and thoroughly.
“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this census. We were underreported the last time, and the impacts that that has on the taxpayers and citizens of the county are huge,” Phillips said.