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A Democrat to vote yes,
a Republican to vote no

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

A former county commissioner and a former candidate for commissioner stated their feelings on the upcoming parks sales tax renewal in separate interviews with The Landmark this week.

Platte County voters will go to the polls on Aug. 4 to decide thefate of half cent sales tax for parks. The tax would bring in a net of $82 million over the 10-year lifespan of the tax, according to projections performed by Platte County Auditor Siobhann Williams.

Tom Pryor, Republican, former first district commissioner, said he is against the parks sales tax at the current half-cent proposal.

Bill Quitmeier, Democrat, former candidate for first district commissioner who was defeated by Kathy Dusenbery in November, said he would vote for the tax, but that the county could have gone for a quarter cent tax instead.

“I think it's too high,” said Pryor. “I would have rather seen it at a quarter cent.”

Pryor pointed out that the county built two community centers for a little over $20 million and the bonds will be completely paid at the end of the tax. Money previously spent making those community center bond payments of more than $4 million annually could now be spent on other park programs, Pryor pointed out.

“It easily could have been a quarter cent and still moved forward in a nice way,” said Pryor. “It's not good to have extra cash. The quarter cent would make people think through what to spend the money on.”

Pryor likened the half-cent proposal to a treasure chest.

“I would like to see it knocked down,” said Pryor.

Quitmeier, widely viewed as the most outspoken environmentalist in Platte County, said he will support the half-cent sales tax renewal.

“I really think we need to keep Platte County beautiful,” said Quitmeier.

Quitmeier said he grew up in Cook County, Ill. and the county had about 11 percent of the county set aside for forest preserve areas.

“We need to keep our quality of life in Platte County,” said Quitmeier. “I will vote in favor of the tax, but it might have been smarter to go with a quarter cent rather than the half.”

Quitmeier said that he is in favor of keeping green space open and keeping the rolling hills of Platte County.

Quitmeier said that since the commissioners are promoting the tax, perhaps they could reduce their own salaries, also.

Quitmeier noted that state representatives have to live half of the year in Jefferson City and earn only around $30,000 a year, while the county commissioners are making over $60,000 a year.
“I think the commissioners could reduce their own salaries,” said Quitmeier.

Current annual salaries for county commissioners are as follows: Presiding Commissioner Betty Knight $65,755; Second District Commissioner Jim Plunkett $63,755; and First District Commissioner Kathy Dusenbery $63,755.

The county pays its park director, Brian Nowotny, an annual salary of $77,635.

Jim Kunce, assistant director of parks for the county, receives an annual salary of $52,600.



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