Kansas Supreme Court agrees to hear Mission’s appeal of ruling that declared ‘driveway tax’ illegal

The cones were out again as sewer work continues on the east end of the Johnson Drive project and lanes were narrowed.
The ‘driveway tax’ was used exclusively to fund street maintenance.

The Kansas Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal by the City of Mission of a Kansas Court of Appeals ruling that declared the city’s Transportation Utility Fee (TUF) or “driveway tax” illegal.

The appeals court made its ruling last July, forcing the city to abandon the TUF as a means of financing street work in the 2016 budget. To compensate for the loss of the approximately $800,000 that the TUF generated, the city raised the property tax rate this year and has discussed a possible sales tax increase in the future.

The TUF was enacted in 2010. A group of businesses and private citizens filed suit, contending that the assessment was an illegal excise tax. A Johnson County District Court judge ruled in November 2013 that the fee was legal. That ruling was reversed by the appeals court in 2015.

A single-family homeowner paid $72 per year when the TUF was in effect. Businesses that were deemed to generate more traffic paid much higher fees. The loss of the TUF and the use of the property tax increase to fund streets shifted the burden toward homeowners from apartments and large retailers.

On a split vote, the city council in August raised the city’s property tax rate by seven mills to cover the cost of street maintenance. Councilor Dave Shepard, at council meetings this month, cited recent forums where he said proposals from across the political spectrum have been made for road funding using fees. “While I am not sure what the Kansas Supreme Court is going to do with the TUF, it appears the court of public opinion – on all sides – is beginning to embrace this concept.”

No date has been set for the court to hear Mission’s appeal.