Roeland Park will explore other options after tax defeat, mayor says

“We’ll figure out how to move forward.” That was Roeland Park Mayor Joel Marquardt’s reaction to a rejection of a higher sales tax to fund an anticipated budget gap in the city.

Roeland Park Mayor Joel Marquardt
Roeland Park Mayor Joel Marquardt

Marquardt said the city has “lots of options” still at its disposal to soften the revenue blow of Walmart’s anticipated move to Mission in 2015. Among those options will be exploring increased cooperation with surrounding cities to lower costs, such as joint bidding. That has already proven helpful on some costs, such as trash removal.

“There is no sense of panic,” Marquardt said. “We will figure out how to move forward.” The mayor said the council is “very even-tempered.” We “will take the will of the voters and move forward.”

Tuesday’s mail ballot ended up with the sales tax increase of .35 percent losing by only 41 votes, 791-750. In 2012, a larger sales tax increase proposal of .75 percent, lost by 36 votes, 1,771-1,735.

Tuesday’s vote, which was a mail ballot, had much lower participation than the vote in November 2012, which was conducted along with the general election. On Tuesday, just over 33 percent of the ballots sent to registered voters were returned by the deadline. Last year, 67 percent of the registered voters at the time voted on the sales tax issue.

Marquardt thought the results this year might be more positive because the proposal was for a much lower increase than in 2012 and in budget town hall meetings this summer, participants had been favorable towards putting a tax question on the ballot.

The city council had split 5-3 on the proposal to put the tax on the ballot. It was the same split that approved a property tax increase of more than 26 percent.