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KCK relying on increased sales tax to help lower property taxes in 2019

Posted at 5:31 PM, Jul 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-17 19:24:52-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- For the third straight year, the Unified Government wants to reduce property taxes, and if the UG's proposed 2019 budget goes through on August 2, the cut would be five percent. 

"They're high. My taxes are very high," said KCK resident Jehrome Randolph.

Chances are any resident will have something to say about the property taxes. People have been complaining for decades, and recent citizen surveys reflected that. 

Charlie Klepac says he's lived in KCK his whole life, and his parents recently moved south to Johnson County to "get away" from the taxes. 

"You can't even own land. You got four, five acres of land and the tax on it is outrageous, you just can’t do it anymore,” Klepac said. “It puts the low man out of business and the big corporate guys come in. Wyandotte County offers everyone tax abatements but then take it on the residents themselves and they got to pay for it.”

Sharon Sparkman said she knows plenty of people struggle to pay their property taxes. 

"I think the income is lower for average person and they just can't do it," Sparkman said. 

The UG has lowered the tax rate by two mills for the past two years. 

"We've seen the economy grow. The sales tax revenue from Village West has been very helpful, it generates quite a bit of income for the city,” said Mayor David Alvey. “Because we've been able to shift the burden to the sales tax, it allows us to provide relief to our residents.” 

The UG is hoping voters will approve keeping the 3/8 cent sales tax in the primary election August 7.  If not, that's $10 million in lost revenue they'll have to come up with. 

That sales tax goes toward public safety and infrastructure. 

Much of the budget is focused on revitalizing neighborhoods. Property values are going up, almost eight percent this year, and a new grocery store downtown could be promising. 

"If we can raise property tax values of the older parts of the city just 10 percent, that distributes the tax burden more broadly and allows us to provide more services," Alvey said.