State tax cuts force local communities to consider sales tax hikes

GODDARD, Kansas – Major tax cuts at the state level mean many local communities are strapped for cash. Now, cities and counties across Kansas are turning to sales taxes to keep basic public services running.

KSN talked with Goddard city leaders about the 1% sales tax measure up for a vote in the August 5 primary election.

Mayor Marcey Gregory told KSN the ballot initiative can be blamed on “decreasing financial support” from the state government.

“All cities across the board, in the state, are trying to figure out how to do more with less,” said Mayor Gregory. “That’s primarily what this is all about.”

If the measure is approved by voters, the 1% sales tax would be divided two ways; 75% going toward “infrastructure improvements,” like roads, and 25% toward “general property tax reduction.”

Mayor Gregory says the hope is to use the proposed sales tax to offset property taxes on residents of Goddard.

On average, 12,000 people drive through Goddard every day, utilizing costly city services they do not pay for.

“The people driving through town that use our roads, that use our police officers, that are not paying in any way,” said Mayor Gregory, “we’re trying to ease some of the burden on the people that pay property taxes here in town.”

Commuters we spoke to said they would not mind paying the sales tax.

“Keep the roads in good shape, keep the sidewalks in good shape. Nothing wrong with that,” said Gabriel A. Martinez.

“I use the roads, so I guess, but I’d like to see it be put to good use, but I could use it too,” expressed Arland Eastwood, a Garden Plain resident.

The ballot measure does not include an end date to the sales tax. This concerns some Goddard residents.

“I will probably vote ‘no’ without a time limit because if you don’t know when they’re going to cut it off, they could just keep it there forever,” said Brenda Johnson, a local business owner. “I’m against it,” she continued.

Goddard city leaders off a ‘simple solution.’

“It takes a simple vote of the governing body to stop levying that tax,” said Brian Silcott, the Goddard City Administrator.

Most residents we spoke with Monday support the 1% sales tax and told KSN they plan to vote ‘yes,’ in favor of the measure.

“What I always like to see is when we’re investing in infrastructure. We need good roads, we need the infrastructure to build and grow in our community, so I’m for that,” said Russell Doerneman, a Goddard resident.

“We do pay a lot in taxes, we even sometimes say, ‘When’s it all going to stop?’ But if you want things improved and kept up, what other choice is there?,” explained Sandy Schindler.

Goddard voters who head to the polls August 5 will see this question on the ballot, as read below:

“Shall the following be adopted?

Shall the City of Goddard, Kansas, be authorized to impose a one percent (1.0%) city-wide retailers’ sales tax, with (1) 75% of such tax applied to pay the costs of City capital improvements and infrastructure; and (2) 25% of such tax applied to the general property tax relief in the City; with collection of such sales tax to commence on January 1, 2015; all pursuant to the provisions of K.S.A. 12-187 et seq., and K.S.A. 10-101 et seq., as amended?”

Like Goddard, other cities across the Sunflower state are also proposing a sales tax hike.

The city of Meade, Kansas is putting a half-cent sales tax increase up for a vote to cover the costs of general public services.

The measure will be seen on Meade residents’ ballots, as written below:

“Shall a retailers sales tax in the amount of one-half of one percent (.5%), in addition to the present tax, be levied in the City of Meade, Kansas, for the purposes of obtaining additional revenue needed to provide an adequate level of public services within the City and such other governmental purposes as may be in the best interest of the City; and avoiding, if possible, any increases in the property tax; to take effect January, 1st, 2015.”

Herington residents in Dickinson County, Kansas will vote on a 1% sales tax hike to help pay for the city’s hospital.

The measure will be seen on ballots, as written below:

“Shall the following be adopted?

Shall a retailers’ sales tax in the amount of one percent (1.0%) be levied in the City, for the purposes of financing the provision of health care services and an adequate level of public services to improve and maintain the Herington Municipal Hospital, to avoid property tax increases if possible, to give voters a choice as to the method used to finance such services, and to provide for such other general governmental purposes as may be in the best interest of the City in accordance with the provisions of K.S.A. 12-187 et. seq., and take effect on the first (1st) day of January, 2015 and be effective until December thirty-first (31st), 2017 when such sales tax for the stated purpose shall cease.”

In Mulvane, voters will also decide on a 1% sales tax increase to help pay for a new library. Residents can cast their ballots Tuesday, June 24.

The proposition will appear on the ballot as follows:

“Shall the following be adopted?

Shall a retailers’ sales tax in the amount of one percent (1.0%) be levied in the City of Mulvane, Kansas for the special purpose of paying the cost of financing, site preparation, acquisition, construction, improvement, installation, furnishing, and equipping a new public library within the City, said tax to take effect on the 1st day of October, 2014, and expire on the 30th day of September, 2024 or such earlier date as all obligations incurred for said purpose shall have been paid in full?”

Next week’s special election will take place at First Baptist Church in Mulvane, located at 1020 N. 2nd. Polls will be open between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.

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