Provisional ballots don’t save Roeland Park tax

The backers of a Roeland Park sales tax increase only needed to pick up 35 votes among the provisional ballots to close the gap after voting ended last Tuesday. They picked up 29. The opponents of the tax proposal picked up 30, so the tax question actually lost ground.

In official results posted by the Johnson County Election Office, the measure was defeated by 36 votes. Some proponents on the city council had held out hope that the question was so close, provisional ballots could put it over the top. Provisional ballots are cast on paper and held until they can be reviewed by the election office after unofficial votes are released. A voter casts a provisional ballot when there is a problem, such as wrong address or polling place, at the polls or when a mail ballot has an irregularity.

Roeland Park’s squeaker of a ballot proposal asked the public to approve a 3/4 cent sales tax increase to help offset the revenue loss expected from a Walmart move to the Mission Gateway project in the next couple of years. Walmart on Roe generates more than $500,000 in sales tax revenue per year for the city and the total loss associated with a Walmart move has been estimated at $700,000. The tax increase would have generated about $630,000 annually to pay for police and public safety expenses. Fliers opposing the tax were distributed to residences and by some businesses before the election.

The closest state house race in northeast Johnson County narrowed a bit with provisional voting, but was not in question. Republican Melissa Rooker, the winner of the contest for state representative in District 25, topped Democrat Megan England by 197 votes – 6,573 to 6,376. Before the provisional ballots were counted, Rooker had a 214-vote lead.