Archive for Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Officials tout benefits of tax

County residents vote April 5 on sales tax extension

March 2, 2005

Lansing Mayor Ken Bernard on Monday underscored improvements that Tonganoxie would see, if voters in April approve the extension of the countywide one-cent sales tax.

During a brief presentation at the outset of the Tonganoxie City Council meeting, Bernard outlined the amount of money the county and individual cities in the county potentially would receive -- and the projects planned with that money.

The existing countywide sales tax was initiated in 1997 to pay for the Justice Center, as well as other projects in cities.

"The county took all of their money and built the justice center," Bernard said.

The sales tax expires in December 2006, and Leavenworth County officials say they believe the county and cities need funding to accomplish several other tasks on the drawing board. The sales tax issue will be on the April 5 ballot, along with candidates for city council and school board. If approved, the sales tax would be in effect for 10 years.

Here's how Leavenworth County officials plan to use the county's portion of tax revenues, which are estimated at $2.79 million annually:

  • Construct roads to a proposed interchange on the Kansas Turnpike. Leavenworth County currently has no interchanges on the turnpike.
  • Improve the road and bridges along Leavenworth County Road 5.
  • Improve Leavenworth County Road 8, which is Fairmount Road, between Kansas Highway 7 and County Road 5.
  • Finance improvements in the communication system for local emergency responders.
  • Additional road improvement projects.

Tonganoxie City Council members have said they want to use their share of the tax revenue -- estimated at $230,500 annually -- to finance capital improvements, equipment and public facilities.

Bernard told those gathered Monday night that the extension of the sales tax would be an equitable way to finance improvements, without increasing property taxes. He pointed out that people who don't live in Leavenworth County would pay the tax, too, when they make purchases here.

"It's very critical for the overall operation of the county," said Leavenworth County Commissioner Dean Oroke, who lives just outside of Tonganoxie.

If the city and county wanted to raise the money generated by the sales tax, the owner of a home valued at $100,000 in Tonganoxie would have to pay an additional $175 annual in property tax, Bernard said.

"In reality, this one-cent sales tax is a money-saving endeavor for all of us," he said.

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