Budget plan approved by Senate would push sales taxes over 10 percent in parts of NEJC

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Thus far, the Kansas House has shown little appetite for following the Senate’s lead in adopting a budget plan that would raise the state sales tax rate from 6.15 to 6.55 percent.

But should that sales tax hike come to fruition, shoppers in pockets of northeast Johnson County can expect to see sales tax on purchases top 10 percent.

Roeland Park has two special taxing districts — the Transportation Development District that includes shops like Fantastic Sams, CiCi’s Pizza, Subway and Liberty Tax Service at 51st Street and Roe Avenue; and the Community Improvement District for the Roe Avenue Shops — that current have total sales taxes of 9.625 percent. The .4 percent increase proposed by the Senate would move those rates to 10.025.

In Mission, the passage of a Community Improvement District for the yet-to-be-completed Cornerstone Commons development on Johnson Drive raised the total sales tax rate for that center from Mission’s city-wide 9 percent to 10 percent. If the state sales tax rate were to go into effect, Cornerstone Commons would top 10 percent as well.

While that 10 percent — or nearly 10 percent — tax rate may seem like a significant psychological impediment for shoppers, proponents of some of the area’s special taxing districts say they’ve helped revitalize aging retail operations that are key to local cities’ financial stability. Prairie Village Mayor Laura Wassmer, who supported the passage of the CIDs for the Village Shops and Corinth Square in 2011 when she was a member of the City Council, said she would make the same decision again. (With the .4 percent increase, sales tax rates at the Village Shops and Corinth Square would rise to 9.775 percent).

“Our decision was based on the information we had at that time–we are unable to predict the decisions made at the state level,” she said. “Regardless of the tax situation being caused in Topeka, I believe the CID was the right decision for the long term health and vibrancy of our community.”

Wassmer noted that the renovations spurred in part by the passage of the CIDs helped take care of millions of dollars of deferred maintenance and attracted a thriving mix of restaurants and retailers.

“While there are still naysayers, I fully believe that the level of improvements that have been made would not have been done without the CID in place,” she said. “The CID is a partnership. We chose to invest in our community which I believe is paying off.”

Prairie Village councilor Ruth Hopkins, who also supported the CIDS, echoed Wassmer’s sentiments, noting that the statewide increase would impact all retail operations equally.

“While I certainly hope that the State does not raise the sales tax, I think our shopping centers will survive gracefully,” she said. “All sales taxes in the State will be affected, not just Prairie Village.”