Independence city officials will seek a third renewal of the half-cent sales tax for street repairs.
The Independence City Council voted unanimously Monday to put the question on the Aug. 8 ballot. The street sales tax was first approved in 1998 and extended in 2002 and 2007. This time, the tax's renewal evaluation committee recommended a renewal with no sunset – the tax would continue until repealed. The committee also recommended capping tax revenues toward operational costs at 8 percent, which exceeds how much has been used in prior years.
Though the current street sales tax doesn't expire until the end of 2019, city officials want to seek renewal now so the city can have assured funds to seek matching state and federal grants.
The City Council also could have voted to put a 2.25 use tax for out-of-state purchases on the Aug. 8 ballot, but it postponed that vote indefinitely, with a possible eye on the November ballot instead. Also, some council members had expressed concern about jeopardizing the street sales tax renewal, which city officials believe is essential to maintain city road repairs and construction, by putting two tax issues on the same ballot.
“Taking a chance that it influences, in any way, the public with this street tax, is not one that I think we should take,” Tom Van Camp said. “The matching funds are vital for the city.
“The publicity and the work of the committee should be brought forward that we need this sales tax for our streets.”
With Amazon now collecting state sales taxes from Missouri consumers, Independence could join neighbor cities in a campaign for a use tax, which applies to products purchased from out-of-state entities and then used at home.
Last year several cities coordinated a campaign to renew a vehicle title sales tax. That was done in part because of potentially confusing ballot language.
The use tax is seen by many as a way to recover some of the potential tax revenue lost from consumers' increasing shift toward online purchases. That shift has pinched some municipal budgets in recent years.
City Manager Zach Walker said Kansas City is the only city in the metro area with a use tax. The state use tax is 4.225 percent.
“I think it's smarter for Eastern Jackson County cities to do it at the same time,” Council Member Karen DeLuccie said, “and I think everybody's looking to do it in November.”
Blue Springs spokesperson Kim Nakahado said the city has had no formal discussions yet about a use tax, and Lee's Summit City Manager Stephen Arbo gave the same assessment from his city, but said, “It's certainly something worthy to look into.”
Walker said the Missouri Municipal League has begun producing education and promotion material about use taxes.
“I think this is going to be a hot topic for some time,” he said.
The deadline to certify a question for the Nov. 7 ballot is Aug. 29.