Tax increases are tricky.
Selling a tax increase to voters is even trickier, particularly when perceptions are that the asked for dollars will not be spent in a judicious manner.
While I think it largely unfair to make a blanket statement that local municipalities have misused tax dollars, the ugly truth is this – by a 2-to-1 margin in Harrisonville, the voters said exactly that.
The lion’s share of passing a tax increase is selling that tax increase to likely voters and those that will share the enthusiasm with other likely voters.
I cannot argue with the city’s efforts to publicize the improvements to streets and sidewalks. From the outside looking in, it appeared all the bases were covered in getting out the informational campaign.
Harrisonville city leaders couldn’t openly lobby for a “yes” vote, but they could educate voters on what the tax increase would mean, give specifics on improvements and try to dispel any myths.
That’s a difficult line to walk some times, especially when a "no" campaign ramps up.
Brian Hasek makes no apologies for criticizing the ballot issue and was frank about why – he simply doesn’t trust the city to use the funds in the way they promised.
And 700-plus voters agreed with Hasek.
So the question has to be asked: how does the city navigate those waters moving forward?
Clearing that hurdle of doubt and suspicion is going to take a lengthy public relations campaign.
And I think the city is up for it.
There are enough people with suitable knowledge on city services and a passion for improving Harrisonville that could take this ball and run with it.
Changing perceptions is a daunting, long-term task.
But the voters sent a clear message that day, and one we need to take time to dissect and have a conversation about.
Taking on that task will be well worth it in the long run.