Harrisonvillestreet tax sunk 2-to-1

jbeaudoin@lsjournal.comApril 11, 2014 

Opponents of the proposed half-cent sales tax for street improvements in Harrisonville are celebrating this week.

The measure on the April 8 ballot went down by a 2-to-1 margin, with 725 people voting no (67 percent) to 363 yes votes (33 percent).

Brian Hasek led the charge against the tax that city leaders and proponents say would have dropped $1 million annually into the coffers to make major repairs on six streets and resurfacing every other road in town over a 10-year period.

"I think the results are very representative about how we feel," Hasek said, adding that he was speaking on behalf of many citizens. "I didn’t share my opinion of just me, alone. I’ve gotten out and talked to a lot of people. I felt like it was something a lot of people were against and someone needed to step up and lead the charge."

Hasek was skeptical the funds would have been used 100 percent for street improvements.

"I would almost give my personal guarantee it would not have gone all for roads," he said.

Hasek also noted the past ballot issue that would have raised taxes to fund a new police building, which was later built without the increase.

Harrisonville Mayor Kevin Wood says those are unfair comparisons.

"As far as the police station is concerned, while the voters said no to a tax, the citizen satisfactory survey told us that we want a new police station, but we don’t want to pay for it," he said.

Wood said he was disappointed the measure failed. He said the funds generated by the tax could have been used to garner additional subsidy.

"Much of that money could have been leveraged against state and federal dollars to get even more done. A little bit can go a long way when you have a little bit."

Hasek said his bottom line was simple – the streets in Harrisonville are not in disrepair.

"The streets are not in bad shape in Harrisonville," he said. "Two, the streets on the city survey … people rated the streets the highest department of them all. Asking for a tax for something people are happy about didn’t seem appropriate."

Wood said the plan laid out was strategic and in the best interest of the city. He also warned that many Harrisonville streets lack a sufficient base and this tax money would have helped address those issues.

"Our street crews do an incredible job of taking care of what we have. What people can’t see is what’s underneath the streets," Wood said. "We know these are going to fail."

Wood said since much of the tax money generated comes from people that live outside of Harrisonville, he had hoped many would see the benefit of passing the measure.

"I don’t know what the next steps are," he said. "We’ve identified a problem and at this point, people don’t want to deal with that."

Had the measure passed, for every $5,000 spent in a year on taxable items, an individual would pay an additional $25 in sales tax.

The sales tax rate in Harrisonville is currently set at 7.85 percent; 8.85 percent within the city’s community improvement and transportation development districts.

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