Losing Walmart could force big spike in Roeland Park property taxes

ROELAND PARK, Kan. - Roeland Park residents are starting to get an idea of how much losing the local Walmart could actually cost them.

City officials are creating the 2014 budget and the first draft calls for a 42 percent increase on the property tax levy.

"I haven't heard of such a high tax increase," resident Michelle Rumsey said.

"I suppose our taxes always have to go up some, but that's pretty drastic," resident Leann Miller said.

Mayor Joel Marquardt said Walmart plans to relocate from its current location on Roe Avenue to the Mission Gateway area by March 2015.

Marquardt said the city expects a $700,000 annual loss in sales tax revenue once the move happens. He said Roeland Park needs to make up for the lost revenue and increasing property taxes could be the answer.

Marquardt said the 42 percent increase is just a starting point. City council members will then decide where it can trim the budget to ease the burden on taxpayers.

Even though Walmart's move won't happen until 2015, the tax increases would kick in a year before that to prepare for the loss.

"If we didn't do that and waited until 2015 and they left, the mill rate would even be higher and that would be more unacceptable," Marquardt said.

Residents have a chance to voice their opinions at a town hall on July 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the community center. The 2014 budget needs to be finalized by August 15.

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