PLATTE COUNTY’S PROPOSAL IS FOR 1/4 CENT SALES TAX
A renewal of a sales tax for roads will be on the ballot in Platte County in November, but it will be at a reduced level.
The Platte County Commission on Monday voted to cut the amount of the sales tax proposal from its current level of 3/8 cent to a quarter cent.
The reduction was not met with happy faces by some city and road district officials throughout the county. And representatives from the Platte County Economic Development Council had recommended that the county commissioners keep the tax level at 3/8th cent for the sake of future projects in the fastest growing county in the state as well as staying up to date with road maintenance needs.
“The reduction will no doubt have a long term impact on future road projects in rural Platte County,” Frank Offutt, district administrator for the Platte City Special Road District, told The Landmark after Monday’s action by the county commission.
Their frustration with the cut will not affect the Platte City Special Road District’s support of the proposal, which will have a 10-year sunset, the same as the previous two 10-year terms for the 3/8th sales tax.
The road district commissioners, who serve in a publicly elected capacity, “support the renewal of the county road sales tax,” Offutt added.
“The Platte City Special Road District remains appreciative the county commission supports the missions of special road districts,” Offutt continued.
County commissioners have expressed the feeling that the tax can be cut without a negative impact to the communities served.
“This tax will help us to continue to maintain our roads and bridges. But because of the work done over the last 20 years, we do not need to take as much from the people. We will still have enough money to fund several major projects. We have received the current plans from the cities for road improvements. This tax will give us the flexibility to change as our needs change in the future,” Joe Vanover, second district county commissioner, said this week.
Recently, Vanover had remarked that: “Twenty years ago the county had a large number of bridges that needed to be replaced. It took a huge amount of money over many years to get that done. Now that we are down to the last few bridges, we can reduce the amount of money collected.”
The commission has proposed to keep distribution of tax funds to other governmental entities substantially the same.
“Cities and road districts will continue to get about the same amount of funding after the tax is reduced because we do not need to set aside a large capital projects fund to replace a bunch of bridges,” Vanover claimed recently.
Bob Heim, public works director for Platte County, said at the commission on Monday that there is “not nearly the need” for projects in the unincorporated areas of the county that there was when the tax was first passed about 20 years ago and then when the tax was renewed 10 years later. “We’re (county road and bridge) cutting back on what we need to pull out of that pot,” Heim remarked.
The proposed ballot language is:
“Shall the County of Platte renew the countywide sales tax for the use of transportation-related projects, including, but not limited to, roads, bridges, drainage structures, and sidewalks, at the rate of one fourth of one percent for a period of 10 years from the date on which such tax will expire?” A simple majority is required for passage.
Vanover added that “the voters will have the ultimate decision in November.”
Vanover explained, “Since 2013, approximately 36% of funds collected from this sales tax have been set aside for bridge replacements and major capital projects. The current commission proposal calls for 10% of revenue to be allocated to a county-wide capital projects reserve fund. The remaining funds will be split between cities and unincorporated areas based on population levels shown in the 2020 census and current road miles.”