Jackson County sales tax increase could go to special election

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Would you pay more at the grocery store to boost medical research?

Supporters hope to put a new tax issue before voters, but first they have to figure out who will pay for the election.

A hearing at the Jackson County Courthouse Monday discussed who should pay for the estimated $800,000 cost of a special election.

The proposal that could go on the ballot in November wants to raise Jackson County's sales tax .5 percent.

That increase would create around $40 million a year. That money will then be used for medical research at three area hospitals.

Children's Mercy Hospital would get 50 percent of that money. St. Luke's Health System and UMKC would each get 20 percent. The remaining would go to other research grants.

Supporters of the increase say the investment into local hospitals outweighs the cost.

"Well nobody likes taxes that's for sure but the only way we have found to be able to really accelerate these cures in the ways these physicians you're talking to are describing, is with an infusion of a significant amount of money," Peter Levi with the Polsonelli Law Firm said.

However, members of the Jackson County Legislature had questions about who would be impacted the most by the higher tax.

"But when you look at this kind of tax it has a tendency to burden people of a lower income," Crystal Williams said.

A decision following the hearing will decide if this vote will take place in November.

The deadline to vote on the special election is Monday, August 26.

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