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Raytown voters shut down three taxes aimed at fixing city's revenue problem

Posted at 3:18 PM, Aug 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-09 20:05:47-04

RAYTOWN, Mo. — Three tax proposals got a decisive "no" from voters in Raytown Tuesday night.

A property tax increase, plus gas and use taxes were voted down by double-digit margins.

Revenue from the taxes would have gone to repair roads and to balance the city’s budget. 

This comes after a contentious round of budget adjustments last year when Raytown cut nearly $3 million from a proposed police budget. That move eliminated 17 officer positions from the department. 

The failure of all three tax measures surprised some residents.

"I don't understand why people wouldn't want to have those three things pass and improve our city," Morgana Burke, owner of Morgana's Gluten-Free, said.

The Raytown Area Chamber of Commerce, which endorsed the taxes, was also initially caught off guard.

"It's only been a day, but having talked to a few people yesterday, kind of understanding some reasons why. Not knowing where the money's going to go....three taxes at once, that seems a little overwhelming," Vicki Turnbow, the chamber president, said.

According to Turnbow, city staff had been working on two budget plans, one for if the taxes passed and another if they failed.

41 Action News wanted to interview someone with the city, but we were told Raytown's public information officer was in budget meetings all day. 

However, Mayor Mike McDonough took to Facebook on election night.

"A majority of the voters have made the decision, and the government will have to live with that decision. It will be difficult. And that, my fellow citizens of Raytown, lies the truth in what we will face," he wrote in part. 

Citizens for Progress, a political action committee formed by residents to support the measures, also released a statement online. 

"The problems that we fought to find a solution for are still there... and we call upon the board of Aldermen to roll up their sleeves and get to work. The needs of the City of Raytown are great, and the resources are few," Treasurer Brian Morris and Deputy Treasurer Michael Anderson wrote. 

The city must adopt a new budget by November 1, the start of the fiscal year.

Burke hopes more cuts don't hit the police department. 

"You can only cut so much before you don't have anything to cut....if the tax didn't pass, what can be done?" she asked.

City leaders haven't announced whether or not they'll try to put any of the tax measures on the November or April ballot.