Downtown Springfield merchants are making a concerted effort to end panhandling in that area. It’s already illegal to panhandle downtown, but it still happens. Victoria Ringer, Executive Director of Downtown Springfield Incorporated says it’s driving away business…
RINGER “Tourism is our lead tax revenue generator and we’ve got to try to maintain the vitality we’ve gotten in the last 20 years and this is not helping.”
With the summer tourism season approaching, Ringer says a zero tolerance stance is being taken.
RINGER “If someone walks into your business and they’re not supposed to be there and they’re asking for money, you need to call the police on them. So we’re really trying to make it a public service announcement to all of Springfield that it’s illegal in the downtown district. And we’re not going to let our tourist dollars and tax dollars be run off by these folks.”
She encourages any business that witnesses panhandling to call police. She says authorities have indicated they will step up enforcement of the city ordinance.
Ringer says she believes it’s a handful of people causing most of the problems. She says there are places where needy individuals can get food and shelter rather than hitting up downtown visitors for money.