Question 1 – August 8th
In 1998 the City Council led by Mayor Ron Stewart asked voters to approve a dedicated sales tax for repair and maintenance of city streets and parks. The City streets and parks were in bad shape and regular revenues were not enough to bring them up to the expectations of the community. A great grassroots effort took place and a coordinated campaign supported by citizens, the business community, and the City Council Voters approve the streets and parks tax by a whopping 69.9%!
The streets tax was put on the ballot for renewal in 2002, and again the voters of Independence saw the need to continue the streets maintenance funding and voted to continue the tax. Five years later, the streets tax went back on the ballot for renewal and passed again with 66.3% of the vote.
On August 8th Independence voters will once again be asked to continued the existing 1/2 cent streets sales tax. It will appear as Question 1 on the ballot and, if approved, will remain in place until repealed.
Street maintenance consistently ranks as the #1 priority of citizens. It is a matter of safety, community pride, and quality of life. Over the last 11 years of the existing sales tax, the City has repaved every road in Independence. This year the City Council adopted a new method of street maintenance and repair that is faster, more cost efficient, and delivers a greater impact. The first two projects under this new method were completed this weekend at the intersection of Truman Road and Liberty, and the intersection of Sterling Road and Winner.
Independence voters have a strong history in approving perpetual taxes for perpetual needs. In 2002, voters approved the perpetual guest tax on hotels, motels, campgrounds, B&Bs to support city tourism. Stormwater and parks benefitted from a perpetual sales tax in 2010 to ensure continued maintenance of these once threatened assets.
Street maintenance is a perpetual need. The existing tax generates approximately $8 million annually to maintain the streets in our city. Without this dedicated funding the streets we all use every day would rapidly decline.
The City uses some of the revenue from the existing streets tax to leverage federal funding. Independence competes every year for a piece of the federal grants for projects like improvements to 24 Hwy. and 40 Hwy. which are on-deck for 2019. The City is not able to apply for future federal funding without the assurance that the streets tax funds will be available two or three years from now.
In today’s political climate, taxes are not popular. I am not concerned with political risk but with what is right for the citizens I was elected to serve. This is why I am in favor of the perpetual renewal of Question 1 on August 8th and ask for your support.