n 11-member committee of citizens has been appointed to study the current sales tax structure for Platte County.
The Platte County Commission had previously announced that Sandra Thomas, former auditor for the county, would chair the committee the commissioners were putting together.
Other committee members were officially appointed on Monday during the county commission meeting. Members of the committee in addition to Thomas are: Shane Bartee, Gordon Cook, Rick Easley, Gina James, Dave Ketchmark, Jim Kunce, Jim McCall, Wes Minder, Angie Mutti, and Aaron Schmidt.
County commissioners said the purpose of Platte County Sales Tax Structure Advisory Committee will be to make a tax structure recommendation concerning dedicated funding for long term predictable financial stability that prioritizes law enforcement operations and supports parks and stormwater operations and maintenance.
The study comes in advance of the county’s current half cent sales tax for parks set to expire in December of 2020. The current county commission has long expressed a desire to restructure the tax to designate a portion of that half cent to go toward law enforcement operations.
Current commissioners have said they would prefer the parks department go into more of a maintenance mode rather than building additional major amenities.
“We have been talking about restructuring the sales tax since 2016 or earlier than that. This is finally an opportunity to do that,” said Dagmar Wood, first district commissioner, at Monday’s commission meeting.
She said the committee will also look at the needs of the prosecutor and the court system.
“We’re going to let them take the lead on this,” Wood said.
Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner, said the committee “will have the flexibility to look at a 10-year parks plan, a 10-year law enforcement plan, a 10-year prosecutor plan and our courts and recommend a funding source that would be the structure over the next 10 years. If that happens to include something for a park or whatever then they can put that in their recommendation. If you look at the 10-year budget on parks and stormwater there is a certain amount of money for undetermined capital projects.”
Schieber’s comment was made in regard to questioning from David Park, a county resident who has announced as a candidate in 2020 for the second district commissioner seat held by John Elliott.
Park wanted to know if the committee, in theory, could identify and recommend any specific capital projects to be funded in the next 10 years. Park has been clear in his support for continuing to expand the county parks system.
Park said at the county’s current rate of population growth, it’s possible the county will have 20,000 more residents in the next 10 years, and he said this would create increased use for the county’s parks and recreation facilities that he said are already overcrowded.
Park also asked about the posting of the meetings of the sales tax advisory committee. Schieber said the county intends to post those meetings as meetings of the county commission, because commissioners want the flexibility to attend the committee meetings. Schieber said the advisory committee meetings would be properly posted and open to the public.
Wood indicated that the date of the first meeting for the committee has yet to be determined. She said the commission intends to put out a press release listing information about each of the committee members.
“There is a wide range of experience on this committee. We are excited to get their input,” Schieber said.
Possible dates for an election sales tax questions in 2020 are April, August and November, Schieber said. He said the county commission has not made a decision on what ballot to place the sales tax question(s).
“We don’t want to rush them. This is extremely important work that they’re doing,” Wood remarked.