INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Independence voters have a decision to make Tuesday when a measure that would impose a new local use tax on online sales will be on the ballot.
City official estimate Proposition P, a proposed 2.25% sales tax that would be levied on top of the 4.25% the state already takes in, would generate roughly $1.3 million dollars in its first year.
The money would be used to hire more police officers and to fund the no-kill Jackson County Regional Animal Shelter., which the city took control of after the Great Plains SPCA decided to end its agreement with four years remaining on a five-year contract in January.
“This is our community," Independence Mayor Eileen Weir said. "This is important to our citizens that we have this facility and that we maintain it as a no-kill shelter."
Some residents strongly support Proposition P.
“Our city right now is stretching its budget like many cities to try and make ends meet,” Mark McDonald, who serves as treasurer for a pro-Prop P campaign.
To help the city loosen its belt, he’s working with We Support Pets and Police to drum up support for Proposition P, because he fears essential city services would suffer if it doesn’t pass.
“We will not be hiring any more police officers for a long time and we’re going to be funding our animal shelter at probably a minimum level rather that what our city would like,” McDonald said.
Other citizens are concerned with Prop P's ballot language.
“Any excess funds will flow into the general fund through a waterfall effect,” Chris Heitzman said, reading part of Proposition P.
It's the potential excess money, and what happens with it, that concerns Heitzman.
"A lot of people have trust issues with the city council and they don’t trust the city council with that use-tax money," he said.
Weir said the city learned a lot from the last election, when voters rejected another proposed use tax, and said this proposal is more transparent about where the money will go.
Voters head to the polls Aug. 6.