Roeland Park sales tax increase defeated by 41 votes

For the second consecutive year, Roeland Park voters have defeated an attempt to raise the city’s sales tax. And once again, the margin was slim: 41 votes.

The 'no' votes carried the day in Roeland Park.
The ‘no’ votes carried the day in Roeland Park.

In the unofficial tabulation from the Johnson County Election Office, 791 voters opposed the tax and 750 voted in favor. A sales tax initiative in November 2012 lost by only 36 votes. The official tally won’t be final until the canvass on Monday, so the results could change somewhat. The proposal this year would have raised the city’s portion of the sales tax by .35 percent.

Ballots in the mail election were required to be returned by noon today. The Johnson County Election Office issued 4,586 ballots to the registered voters in Roeland Park and by Monday 1,541 were returned, meaning the election was decided by one-third of the city’s registered voters.

At issue was an additional sales tax that the city council had approved as a means to plug part of a budget hole that the city anticipates will result from Walmart’s impending (2015) move to the Gateway development in Mission at Johnson Drive and Roe Avenue. The city anticipates losing up to $700,000 per year between direct sales tax revenue from Walmart and its effect on surrounding businesses.

An increase in property taxes already was approved this year to help cover the budget gap. Roeland Park also has been losing assessed valuation for the last few years, which reduces the amount of money raised by the same property tax rate.

The sales tax increase was expected to raise approximately $288,000 per year over its five-year limited lifespan. The council earlier set priorities for any new revenue, starting with emergency infrastructure needs.

The tax has had some vocal opponents, notably former mayoral candidate Linda Mau, who has spoken against the tax at multiple city council meetings. A scattering of yard signs also had appeared around Roeland Park opposing the tax.

The city held two public forums to discuss the tax.

Here are the current sales tax rates paid on retail sales in northeast Johnson County, including the 7.375 percent for state and county collections:

Prairie Village             8.375
Prairie Village CID    9.375 (Village Shops)
Prairie Village CID    9.375 (Corinth Square)
Mission                         9.00
Mission CID               10.00 (Mission Crossing)
Roeland Park               8.625
Roeland Park CID      9.625 (Roeland Park Center)
Roeland Park TDD1  9.625 (Shopping Center)
Roeland Park TDD2  9.125 (Shopping Center)
Westwood                    8.375
Westwood Hills          8.375
Fairway                         8.875
Mission Hills               8.375
Mission Woods           7.375
Leawood                       8.50
Leawood TDD             9.50 (Park Place)
Leawood TDD             9.50 (119th St.)