Roeland Parkers can expect to see an additional question on their ballots this general election.
The city approved asking residents to vote on whether to remove a current one quarter of one percent sales tax and impose a new half percent sales tax to help expedite infrastructure projects. Mayor Mike Kelly said the two top items citizens ask the city to focus on, according to citizen survey data, are sidewalks and streets — both of which are budgeted for out of the city’s special infrastructure fund.
Kelly said while he knows asking residents for additional taxes can be a burden, he says if the tax is passed, the city and the governing body will continue to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
“I really hope that the residents will continue to trust the decisions that this governing body has made and that they show their commitment to building the city, for protecting what we have and helping build for the future,” Kelly said.
The sales tax details and uses
Although the quarter-cent sales tax currently in place doesn’t sunset until 2023, the expected record voter turnout for the 2020 presidential election may result in more residents voting, Kelly said. The proposed increase to 0.5% will generate approximately $375,000 more annually, according to the city’s website.
Additionally, nearly a quarter of sales taxes collected from Roeland Park businesses come from visitors, Kelly said. This allows the additional tax burden to be shared between residents and visitors, he said.
The special infrastructure sales tax has been used for a number of projects since 2013, including R Park improvements and sidewalk additions to Birch Street most recently. The sales tax is also scheduled to complete major improvements to the Roeland Park Aquatic Center.
Outreach efforts to continue
Kelly said the city has held meetings with various stakeholders, met with the St. Agnes Parish Council and the Roesland Elementary Parent Teacher Association about the sales tax initiative. He and other governing body members are going to continue to speak with residents to ensure they are prepared for the ballot, he said.
“I want people to feel like they know what’s coming with this question,” Kelly said. “It’s going to be tough because it will be the last question on this ballot.”
The quarterly community forum on Oct. 26 will focus on the sales tax initiative, Kelly said. If there happens to be a group of residents interested in a Zoom question and answer session, Kelly said to contact Assistant City Administrator Jennifer Jones Lacy at email@example.com or (913) 722-2600.
Additional information about the sales tax question can be found online here.