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Will your taxes increase? Several Kansas City-area cities voting on tax questions

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Posted at 11:54 AM, Apr 05, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Several Kansas City-area suburbs are asking taxpayers to fork over more money for a variety of municipal issues, many involving first responders.

Lee’s Summit voters will be asked to pass an extra half-cent sales tax “for public safety purposes.”

If approved, the city’s sales tax rate would jump from 2.25% to 2.75% for a new overall sales tax rate of 8.35%.

The Lee’s Summit police and fire departments would use the money, estimated to be $10 million or more annually, to buy new equipment and increase salaries.

The goal is to reduce response times, enhance public safety in the city and attract and retain quality personnel.

Lee’s Summit’s current tax rate is relatively low compared to Kansas City, Missouri; Grandview; Blue Springs; Raytown and Independence among surrounding cities.

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Two of three bond-issue questions before Grandview voters — Questions 1 and 3 — would provide additional funding for the city’s police and fire departments.

Question 1 would provide $6 million from general obligation bonds for “renovating, equipping, improving, expanding and furnishing Grandview Municipal Services Complex/Police Station.”

Question 3 would authorize $2.6 million in bonds for “renovating, equipping and improving the City's fire stations” and purchasing new fire equipment.

The other ballot issue — Question 2 — would authorize $12.4 million in bonds for “streets, bridges, sidewalks, parking areas, and construction of a carport to shelter City street equipment.”

Several other taxing jurisdictions also have ballot questions for police, fire and ambulance services:

  • Grain Valley is asking voters to approve $14 million in general obligation bonds for “the construction, furnishing and equipping of a police facility.” No levy increase would be required, the city said;
  • Kearney Fire District No. 2 is requesting a 15-cent levy increase — or $28.50 per year for a $100,000 residence — which would bump the tax levy to 87.26 cents per $100 of assessed value and raise roughly $1.5 million per year, according to the Courier Tribune;
  • The Lone Jack Fire Protection District seeks voter approval for two tax questions.

Question 1 in Lone Jack authorizes $6.793 million in general obligation bonds for building new fire stations and purchasing new fire trucks and equipment, while Question 2 would raise the tax levy 20 cents — or $38 per year for a $100,000 residential property — to hire additional firefighters and other emergency personnel;

  • Oakwood is asking for a two-year renewal of the 30-cent levy increase per $100 of assessed valuation, which raises about $57 per year for every $100,000 of residential property value; 
  • The Southern Jackson County Fire Protection District is asking voters two tax-levy questions.

Question 1 would raise the tax levy 38.6 cents per $100 of assessed value, or $73.34 per year for a $100,000 home, for staffing, infrastructure maintenance, purchasing equipment and additional training.

Question 2 asks for a 12.93-cent tax-levy hike for ambulance service, or $25.57 per year for a $100,000 home.

If both questions pass, the owner of a $300,000 home should expect an annual property tax increase of more than $296;

  • Tri-County Ambulance District — which includes more than 600 square miles in Buchanan, Clinton and Platte counties in Missouri — is requesting a 0.08-cent tax levy. According to Missouri law, 50% of the ambulance district’s sales tax this year would have to be used to roll back property taxes next year if approved;
  • In addition to a use tax, the Village of Oaks is asking for a two-year extension of the existing fire-suppression tax levy, which is set at $0.3159 per $100 of assessed property value, and the existing general municipal levy, which is currently $0.50 per $100 of assessed value.

Belton has 4 tax questions

Belton will once again try to get voters to sign off on a local use tax, which would tax online purchases at the same rate as retail shops within city limits.

Voters rejected a use tax in 2013 and 2018, which the Missouri Department of Revenue calculated would have raised $1.9 million for Belton in 2020.

If Question 4 passes, use-tax funds — which would add a 3.25% sales tax to online purchases, would pay for widening Interstate 49 to six lanes from 155th Street to North Cass Parkway; improving trails, sidewalks and the dog park; building a new splash pad and other park improvements; and maintaining city services.

Two of the other three questions are bond issues.

Question 1 would permit $21 million in general obligation bonds for the city’s roads program, while Question 2 would authorize $60 million to fix the city’s aging and crumbling water infrastructure, including a new water tower to help improve service and water pressure in Belton.

If passed, Question 3 would eliminate the sunset provision for the city’s capital improvement sales tax, which is currently 0.5%, and make it permanent.

Five municipalities in addition to Belton — Ferrelview, Lake Annette, Lake Winnebago, Lone Jack, and the Village of Oaks — have a use tax on the ballot, which would require online retailers to collect the same sales taxes as brick-and-mortar stores.

Lone Jack voters have also rejected a use tax in recent years.

More Cass County tax-levy questions

Other Cass County voters may see multiple tax questions on the ballot:

  • The Central Cass County Fire Protection District also is requesting a 30-cent increase per $100,000 of assessed value to its tax levy. The money — roughly $57 in higher property taxes for a residential home worth $100,000 — would be used for the county’s ambulance service, including equipment and personnel needs.
  • Finally, the Dolan and West Dolan Fire Protection seek voter approval to issue $900,000 in general obligation bonds, which would be used to construct living and storage areas as well as pay for new radios, bunker gear, training equipment, vehicles and other emergency or fire equipment. The bonds would be repaid from revenue paid by customers.
  • East Lynne is asking voters for permission to issue $480,000 in general obligation bonds “for the purpose of extending and improving the streets.”
  • Public Water Supply District No. 2 is asked for permission to issue $8 million in bonds “to replace obsolete glued joint piping, to increase water capacity throughout the water system, to maintain compliance with drinking water regulations and to be eligible to obtain grants and low-cost loans.”

Additional ballot questions

Lake Waukomis voters in Platte County will decide whether to extend a 70-cent tax levy per $100 of assessed value for another four years;

Peculiar hopes to expand city limits to “embrace and include all the unincorporated area lying within the following boundary lines.” (See aerial photos from Facebook.)

Sugar Creek will ask voters to change the business license tax to a flat fee of $50. Question 2 notes that the current business license fee is $25 for businesses with gross receipts of less than $50,000.

Voters in Sugar Creek also will decide whether to replace the elected city marshal with an appointed chief of police, effective April 2025.