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County pushes tax for roads

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

Would a 3/8 cent countywide sales tax for roads be accepted favorably by the public?
That's the question Platte County Commissioners are in the process of exploring as they look for a solution to the county's rural road situation.

Commissioners have been meeting with mayors around the county, presenting two options. The proposal they're focusing on the most is the 3/8 cent sales tax option, though a property tax increase has also been kicked around.

"Everybody has been positive about the process," Steve Wegner, second district county commissioner, said last week after meeting with area mayors at the Weston City Hall.

"Nobody has taken a negative shot at the process. We've asked the mayors to go back and visit with their board members and at least begin the process" of determining their level of support, he said.

Under the sales tax option being discussed, the 3/8 cent tax would raise $65.6 million over a 10 year period. The tax would have a sunset clause after 10 years.

As an enticement to cities, municipalities would get half of the revenue generated within their boundaries.

Wegner says the cities would be required to develop a list of designated improvements before voters go to the polls.

Wegner indicated the county would monitor the cities use of the money and would have the right to cut off funding if a city spent the money in a way not acceptable to the county.

"It's an accountability issue. We want to be accountable for the money," he said, pointing out the credibility problems encountered by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) led to the defeat of the statewide Proposition B fuel/sales tax for roads earlier this year.

The county has developed its own list of road improvements and along with it a transportation plan that includes making developers improve arterial roads near developments.

Included on the list are the ideas of putting hard surface on heavily traveled roads and fixing more than 30 bridges that are deemed deficient or obsolete in the county.

Roads within the Weston, Farley and the Platte County Common Road Districts also would get an additional $2,500 per mile for maintenance for the 10 years. The county commission administers the Platte County Common district.

A county transportation task force will meet in November, Wegner said. By that time, the county will have a better gauge on reaction to the idea, including having a verbal response from Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes.

Wegner estimated that the City of Kansas City would get $20 million over the 10 years of the county tax. The county would require that Kansas City's share of the money be spent within Platte County.

If the proposal is met favorably throughout the planning process, the issue will be placed on the ballot sometime next year, he indicated.

"The voters basically are the ones who are going to be making the decision," Wegner said.

Following are the approximate amounts each city would get over the life of a 10-year, 3/8 cent sales tax for roads:
Camden Point: $300,000.
Dearborn: $328,000.
Edgerton: $330,000.
Farley: $140,265.
Ferrelview: $368,000.
Houston Lake: $176,000.
Iatan: $33,500
Kansas City: $21.5 million.
Northmoor: $247,000.
Platte City: $2.4 million.
Platte Woods: $294,000.
Parkville: $2.5 million.
Riverside: $1.8 million.
Ridgely: $39,721.
Tracy: $132,197.
Weatherby Lake: $1.1 million.
Weston: $1 million.
Roads targeted for improvement by the county include:
MARTIN ROAD, 1.5 miles from Skyview to the county line, improve surface from gravel to chip and seal.
SHARP STATION, 2.9 miles from Elm Grove to Interurban, from gravel to chip and seal.
ELM GROVE ROAD, 4.8 miles from I-29 to Route E, from gravel to asphalt.
EAST RIDGELY ROAD, 1.5 miles from Ridgely to county line, from gravel to asphalt.
FOX ROAD, 1.2 miles from Hwy. 45 to Jones-Meyer Road, asphalt.
JONES-MEYER ROAD, 2.4 miles from Hwy. 45 to Route N, asphalt.
HILLSBORO ROAD, 2 mile stretch from Jones-Meyer to Farley-Hampton, chip and seal.
HILLSBORO ROAD, 2 mile stretch from Farley-Hampton to Route N, chip/seal.
BAKER ROAD, 3.9 mile stretch from Farley-Hampton to Hwy. N, chip/seal.
FARLEY-HAMPTON ROAD, Hwy. 45 to Route N, 4 miles, asphalt.
COUNTY ROAD DISTRICT: The county common road district would get $2,500 per mile increased maintenance.
NORTH FARLEY: 5.8 mile stretch from Hwy. 92 to Farley city limits, chip/seal.
HUMPHREY'S: 1.7 mile stretch from N Farley to Hwy. 45, asphalt.
FARLEY ROAD DISTRICT: $2,500 per mile increased maintenance.
RUNNING HORSE: 2 mile stretch from 120th St. to 136th St., improve 2 lane to 3 lane.
NORTHWEST 136TH STREET: 3.5 mile stretch, improve from 2 lane to 3 lane.
WOODRUFF: 3 mile stretch from Hwy. 371 to Route V, chip and seal.
DYE STORE: .2 mile stretch from Countryside to Hwy. 45, chip/seal.
WESTON ROAD DISTRICT: $2,500 per mile increased maintenance.
UNION CHAPEL: 1.1 mile stretch from Hwy. 45 to River Road, improve 2 lane to 3 lane.
ALL BRIDGES: All bridges would be improved or replaced.
COLLECTOR A: Childress Road to Crooked Road, construct asphalt.
COLLECTOR B: .7 mile stretch from Crooked Road to Hwy. 9, construct asphalt.
COLLECTOR C: 1.1 mile stretch from Crooked Road to River Road, construct asphalt."