Harrisonville seeking BOA approval on transportation sales tax

bbashioum@demo-mo.comDecember 27, 2013 

Harrisonville city leaders may soon be looking to voters in April for approval of a transportation sales tax to make a variety of street, sidewalk and storm water improvements.

The proposed 0.5 percent tax increase would generate roughly $1 million annually for the city, and would expire after 10 years.

“We’ve identified some projects that we thought would be important,” Public Works Director Jerry Gibbs said.

The public works committee has identified five streets to be reconstructed and add/improve sidewalks and curbs:

• Jefferson Parkway, from Locust Street to the Community Center (2400 S. Jefferson Pkwy.).

• King Street, from Mechanic Street to Elm Street.

• E. Washington, from S. Independence Street to S. Highland Drive.

• E. Elm Street/Cemetery Road, from Mechanic Street to the city limits.

• W. Wall Street, from Oakland Street to Independence Street.

“A lot of these things were picked for safety,” Street Superintendent Rodney Jacobs said of the list priority improvements, noting narrow streets and no sidewalks.

The proposal also includes a budgeted $200,000 annually to resurface every road in the city over the 10-year time-frame of the project.

The Jefferson Parkway project would top $3 million alone in repairs.

“We tried to look at the roads that would have the most impact,” Gibbs said.

“We would also cover every street with some type of surface treatment. The half-cent sales tax would benefit all of the citizens -- not just those using the particular streets that we’ve identified to get curbs and be rebuilt.”

Gibbs said the BOA could interject their opinion on the list of projects, and could ask the public works committee to consider different projects.

“The board is going to have an opportunity to provide input if they would like for us to consider other streets,” Gibbs said.

Overall, the city says it has about $25 million in projects that need to be done.

“We are trying to stretch and leverage the dollars the best we can,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs said passage of question would enable the city to free up some of their capital improvement fund to fix an aged storm water system. The committee felt the 10-year time frame would allow the city the opportunity to plan and complete a significant amount of improvements, in hopes of looking to residents to extend the tax after it would expire.

“All of this infrastructure starts aging as soon as it’s built,” Gibbs said.

A similar issue to the transportation sales tax proposal was taken to voters in 2001, but failed.

If voters approve the measure in April, the projects would begin in 2015, according to City Administrator Keith Moody.

“It’s a pay-as-you-go program,” Moody said. “We’re not looking to borrow any money.”

The BOA will be looking to approve the measure at their next meeting, 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 6. If approved, the question will be on the ballot Tuesday, April 8. Passage of the question requires a simple majority.

“I think the residents have voted in support of sales tax initiatives where they see the value,” Moody said.

In more recent years, Harrisonville voters have approved sales tax increases to add law enforcement and fire personnel, and to build the community center and aquatic center.

“Residents have a track record of being supportive of initiatives funded by using sales tax,” Moody said.

The sales tax rate in Harrisonville is currently set at 7.85 percent, and 8.85 percent within the city’s TDD area.

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