If you haven't read Between the Lines by Ivan Foley in the Jan. 23, 2019 issue of The Landmark, it is a great primer for the tax question being placed on the April 2nd ballot. Pick up a copy. Please educate yourself before going to the voting booth. Here's why.
1) “…we just spent a half million dollars on one community center to replace a humidifier”…“a half million dollars on a community center and swimming pool would give every one of our law enforcement a $3000 a year raise.” Commissioner John Elliott, Jan. 14, 2019 County Commissioners’ meeting, check the tape.
OK. Then why are our commissioners proposing a capital improvement tax which does not address the pay scales for Platte County Sheriff Deputies? Sheriff Mark Owen has attended commission meetings where he has stated the need for deputies' salary increases because he is losing employees to adjoining jurisdictions which pay more. The deputies get trained in Platte County and then leave for higher pay. It is pure hypocrisy to make a statement like this and then not address it.
2) “Current state and county sales tax rate is 5.6. The county sales tax rate is currently 1.375, which is 25% of the total. If the capital improvement sales tax passes, the county rate will be 1.875 which is 31% of the total but only through 12/31/25 when it expires.” Commissioner Elliott.
Be sure to look closely at this one. A 36% tax increase is proposed for something, we haven't been told specifically what. Probably for a prison palace but who knows. The ballot measure as proposed reads, “…imposed for the purpose of capital
improvements, including without limitation the construction of a jail expansion and improvements to the existing jail and other county facilities?” It is a wide open question. Yes, I know, it is for 6.25 years. But when was the last time we had a tax decrease?
3) “$65,625,000 is our estimate. This is sales AND use tax. I highlight AND because all use tax currently received goes into general revenue and used for GR purposes-not for the purpose of the tax. With this tax, we will begin weaning GR off of use taxes.” Commissioner Elliott
I don't know about you, but I don't want to give $65 million to a group of commissioners who have run on the premise of “no new taxes.” Commissioner Schieber even put on his campaign mailings last fall that he had upheld his campaign promise of “no new taxes.” Oh my. The only reason he could say that was because the commission's hastily designed tax for the fall election ran into so much head wind that a ballot measure couldn't be put together. His intent was and is to raise taxes for a prison palace monument to this current commission.
When asked about using bonds to build the jail, here's the response I received.
4) “We will not fully know the answer to this question until the judge rules on our declaratory judgment on May 24.” Commissioner Elliott
Whoa! Isn't that after the election date of April 2, 2019? And won't the judgment simply state what they already know, that the county is not legally bound to pay the shortfall?
There was a rather poor showing for the jail study presentation at the commission's regular meeting. Part of the problem, the jail
study revealed, was the length of stay which has increased dramatically in the last three years. When questioned about this, the commissioners said it was due to a lack of public defenders. Public defenders are provided by the State of Missouri. This was confirmed by Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd, who was present at the meeting.
My thought is for the commissioners to make a trip to Jeff City to speak to the newly elected state senator and chair of the judiciary committee, State Sen Tony Luetkemeyer. All of us can help the commission and the prosecutor by calling Luetkemeyer's office at 573-751-2183 and telling him we need more public defenders to clear out the backlog at the county jail. Call today. Flood his office with calls.
The final item is the park tax, currently at half cent, set to expire in 2020. At least two of the commissioners, Schieber and Elliott, have suggested reducing that to 1/8 cent for park maintenance and redirecting the remaining 3/8 cent portion to law enforcement. I'm assuming this would include personnel issues as well as capital improvements. While they are waiting for the new ballot measure of 1/8 -3/8 split to be introduced, they could get design, location, and specifics in place to “sell” the need. This tax would have to be renewed in 2020 but from our current position it would not be a tax increase.
As for parks, there is 92 acres m/l currently under cultivation that the county owns at Spratt Rd and P Hwy just east of Weston. Why would we want or need a county park there when there is a state park on 45 Hwy., also just east of Weston? Sell that county owned land. I'm sure very, very few people even know that was a park board purchase.
It's a thumbs down for me on this new tax.