by Ivan Foley
Platte County voters handily approved renewal of a 3/8th cent sales tax for roads at Tuesday’s election.Final tally showed 5559 votes in favor, 4172 opposed, 57% to 43%. Voter turnout in the county was 15.44%.
The proposal had been somewhat controversial in that it was not unanimous among the three member county commission. In January, Jason Brown, presiding commissioner, had opposed placing the tax back on the ballot in basically the same form it had been passed 10 years ago.
With more than $10 million worth of mandated emergency radio equipment to pay off, Brown in January advocated for rewriting the 3/8th cent tax to allow a portion to go toward the radio debt.
Associate commissioners Duane Soper and Beverlee Roper favored keeping the roads tax at 3/8th cent. Both said at a January meeting with road district officials and mayors that they favored handling the radio debt with either a separate sales tax question to come later this year, or by raising the county’s property tax levy from one cent per $100 assessed valuation to seven cents.
In the final week prior to the election, Roper floated the thought of paying for the radio debt with use tax money brought in by the roads tax. But Kevin Robinson, county auditor, pointed out that the use tax money is already being spent by the county for general operations. To spend the use tax money on radios would mean the county would have to “make up for it somewhere else,” Robinson commented last week, pointing to the need for a tax hike or cuts to make the budget balance in that situation.
After Tuesday night’s result became known, Brown remarked:
“While the roads tax passed, this county still faces the exact same financial challenge of how to pay for the unfunded mandate of the radios,” Brown said as results were tallied at the Platte County Board of Elections Tuesday night.“We still have to figure out how to pay for those radios. Without having radio infrastructure included in that road tax, we now have one less viable option available to us,” Brown added.
Areas of the county that gave heavy voter support to the proposal included Lake Waukomis (77%), Prairie Point at Tiffany Springs (67%), Weatherby Lake (70%), Weston (66%), and Parkville (64%).
Areas with strongest opposition to the tax included Hoover (69% opposed), New Market (64%), Seven Bridges south of Platte City (59%), and Platte City (57%).
For a complete list of election results in Platte County, go to http://platte.lazarusgroup.com/current/results.htm