Use tax benefits our entire community

Tom Lesnak, president

Independence Chamber of Commerce and EDC

I write today in support of the passage of the use tax, which will appear on the April 3 ballot.

Being able to provide adequate public services is a crucial component in the retention of local businesses and the recruitment of new companies. We must also realize that purchases, regardless of where the purchase is made, should be subject to taxes that voters have already approved. Competing with online retailers is a challenge, and the use tax will help level the field for existing merchants who support our local economy through their capital investment and jobs they offer our residents.

Both the Independence Chamber of Commerce and Independence EDC have unanimously voted to support this measure. I encourage Independence voters to do so as well.

 

DeLuccie, Medley best choices for City Council

Scott Roberson, DDS

3rd District City Council

April elections are the time we focus on local government. Every election is important and can send the city in a different future direction. As your 3rd District City Council member, I look at the many good changes that the last four years have brought and the challenges ahead.

Who will do the most good for Independence? My choices are Karen DeLuccie for re-election and Matt Medley as a write-in candidate for council at-large.

Karen and I do not always agree, but we talk and respect each other’s opinion. Each issue and each vote is independent. No outside person or group influences or controls the decision and vote. Matt Medley is also of that ability and has become deeply involved in Independence groups and organizations.

Look at both of these candidates and see all they do outside their jobs, because they care about the community. We need both Karen DeLuccie and Matt Medley on our City Council to continue the positive direction we have started and to have their creative caring energy to meet head-on the challenges before us.

 

CEL is out of line; vote for Mike Huff

Larry Porter

retired supervisor/utilities

Independence Water Department

The Citizens for Effective Leadership hurt its brand by ignoring the City Charter and resorting to back-ally politics against Mike Huff, a truly qualified candidate.

CEL is a political group in Independence. They are purported as charter form of government proponents. I was amazed to see the CEL go against the charter when they endorsed an unqualified, self-declared write-in candidate for the City Council.

This self-declared candidate showed contempt for the clear and unambiguous rules of our City Charter at Article 6, that required nominations to be by petition to run for the council. He did not submit 250 signatures of qualified registered voters, meet filing deadlines and sign notarized city affidavits as required by the charter.

This break from CEL support of the charter is way our of character. Even more shocking is the CEL, which had been above negative campaign tactics, has now gotten “down in the dirt” when it recently conducted a negative campaign against Mike Huff, a retired Independence Power & Light lineman with 35 years of meritorious service to our city, and his family.

I have known Mike Huff for decades as a fellow supervisor and peer while working to serve our city. He is a true servant of the citizens. He demonstrated bravery, integrity and ethics during his whole career of public service. Mike and his family do not deserve the CEL mudslinging. Mike Huff knows negative campaigning never educated a child, repaired a street or restored a downed power line.

Mike is running a positive campaign to improve our city. He has experience and knowledge and he wants to give back to our community. Mike is a hardworking good person who is well qualified to represent us. I highly recommend Mike Huff for Council.

 

Local businesses deserve fairness – yes on use tax

Tom Waters

Corporate Copy Print, Inc.

Independence

As a small-business owner here in Independence, I feel the impact of out-of-state competition and often because they don’t have to collect sales tax when selling locally. I don’t mind the competition, but I feel it should be fair when it comes to sales tax.

I am supportive of Question 1 because it is a fair way to assess the collection of sales tax from all sellers. As a lifelong resident, I don’t want Independence to be left behind either. Check your Amazon bill – most of us are already paying the state portion because Missouri has already adopted the use tax. Let’s make sure Independence doesn’t miss out on this revenue. Money from Question 1 will support city services that you and I count on.

It’s easy to say no to taxes – until we need the police to show up in our time of need, the fire department to assist in an emergency or when we expect our parks to be well maintained and relevant for our grandchildren. Connect the dots, friends: If sales tax revenues remain flat or decrease we can expect our city budget to suffer and so will services that we expect in a progressive, vibrant city.

Kudos to the city staff for working hard to trim expenses. This citizen wants more economic development, and Question 1 takes us in the right direction.

 

Huff, DeLuccie for City Council

Renee Paluka

President/treasurer of Taxpayers for Accountability

Taxpayers for Accountability has endorsed Karen DeLuccie and Mike Huff for the two open City Council at-large seats for the following reasons:

Of the three candidates filed, Karen and Mike are the most qualified to serve. Karen DeLuccie is a longtime attorney in Independence who served honorably on the Council. She previously served on the Planning Commission.

Mike Huff is a third-generation resident of Independence who served the public at our Independence Power & Light. He recently retired from IPL with 34 years of meritorious service. His experience and knowledge about the Power and Light Department will be valuable in guiding the progress and efficiency of our utillities and city services.

We declined endorsing Brice Stewart because he is running for two offices at the same time. We also could not endorse Matt Medley because he is unqualified because he did not follow the nomination rules of the City Charter.

We recommend Karen and Mike on April 3 to lead our city.

 

City can get by without this tax

Henry Carner

retired Independence fire captain

Independence

Independence tax question No. 1 on the April 3 ballot asks us to impose a new “local use tax.” The city is not up front on the fact that If Question 1 passes, only Independence residents will pay more for all online purchases. We have not been told nor does the ballot state what exactly will be taxed. What does “local use tax” mean? See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Use_tax.

The ballot language is confusing and deceptive. The city has not defined the exact need for this new tax. Further, there is no explanation on the ballot of how this tax will be collected or enforced. The ballot does not state exactly where the money will go. It will never end (no renewal date).

This is an unnecessary new tax. There is no logical explanation for more taxes! The city has a $291 million dollar budget, six special sales taxes (fire, police, streets, parks, tourism and stormwater taxes), a long list of fees for city services, $4 million a year income from fines and court costs, ever-increasing real estate and property taxes, added taxes on our utility bills and a sales tax rate as high as 8.85 percent. Moreover, the city receives grants from our federal and state taxes.

We recently passed taxes for police and fire. How can a “local use tax “be needed for these departments now? The city asks us for more taxes about every other year. Isn’t it time to encourage the city to live within its budget like we have too?

Tell the city that you don’t want them to tax you in the privacy of your home while shopping online. Vote “no” on new tax Question 1.

 

We don’t need another new tax

Amenda Ploeger

Independence

The more I try to understand the use tax on the upcoming ballot, the more I realize it is just another City Hall “money grab.” We passed six sales taxes in the past few years for six different city departments. It is unbelievable that the city still wants more.

What is the city doing to make them keep asking for more taxes? It must be going to pay the City Council 100 percent pay increase they gave to themselves, Bass Pro area private developer bailouts and $3 million for a Farmers Market to help another private developer on the Square to name a few.

The use tax is silent on what specifically will be taxed, how it will be collected and where it will really go. If this tax passes, it looks like I will have to self-assess, declare to the city my private information and what I bought online to file a city tax return along with my state and federal tax returns at more cost.

The city has not said straight out that the use tax is, in fact, for anything and everything we buy on the internet. I am offended that the city wants to add more taxes onto my livelihood. We are not being told what else the city will add a use tax to.

I applaud those who can make sense of this tax and the ballot wording. The ballot was purposely written in bureaucratese. I bet I am not alone in not being able to figure out what it actually means. Those who don't know should vote no use tax April 3.

 

Unfair attacks are being made against a good man

Tamara Huff

Independence

It has long been a U.S. political tradition to dissect a candidate's personal and professional life probing into the very sacred territory of family, friends and work relationships. We have seen this played out in many political ads on TV, cable networks, city newspapers and the internet, spewing exaggerated half-truths or plain lies. How this accepted practice is ethical or even legal still evades me, but I am told it is never personal … not really. It is somehow OK and permissible to be publicly misleading and create a falsehood because after all, it's “just politics.”

This is not the way my husband, Mike Huff, has run his campaign for the position of Independence City Council at-large. To the contrary, he has been above board, transparent and honest of who he is as a candidate and what he believes he can do for Independence. Mike truly likes everyone and never has a bad word to say. One of his philosophies is if something is not going as planned, give it time and it will get better.

He is a good man, a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, son, brother and friend. Mike is very loving and kind; helping many who have no one to help them. My husband deserves a lot of credit, more than he gets, because every day he is there for me, his family and community, without question and without fail.

I have faith that citizens of Independence will sift through “the noise” for the truth and see my husband, Mike Huff, as he truly is – an honorable man and friend to all.

 

Huff has all the wrong ideas for the Independence

Jason White

Independence

I will be casting my ballot on April 3 for Karen DeLuccie and write-in candidate Matt Medley, who are running for the Independence City Council. The voters of Independence will be voting for two candidates to fill council positions.

Karen DeLuccie brings hard questions, determination and intelligence to the council.

Matt Medley will bring new ideas, a fresh approach and some vital energy at a time of serious budget challenges, crime, and pose critical questions about high electric rates and deteriorating neighborhoods.

Matt Medley is a write-in candidate. Voters must write in his name on the ballot and then darken in the square next to his name. This is important for all votes to be counted and verified for Matt.

I have been engaged with the community for the last 20 years on different sides of election issues and candidates. I am impressed with Karen and Matt and what they offer our community. I am profoundly disappointed with the other candidates’ shallow approach to complicated issues.

Brice Stewart is a perennial candidate who offers no evidence of doing research on the issues, provides no vision and does little to campaign for the office he seeks.

Mike Huff is clearly challenged in understanding the complex issues that beset Independence.

Whether you agree with the proposed advanced electric meters or not, the Huff comment at the recent candidate forum was surprising. Huff responded that the city should spend the money earmarked for the advanced electronic metering instead on new power generation in the city as at “any given moment…this place could get blacked out.”

Scaremongering with stories of the city being susceptible to blackouts due to our lack of city-owned power plants is inappropriate. No other city in America has had blackouts as he predicts for us. Over 97 percent of our power comes from power plants outside of Independence. Our days of IPL producing power are long gone.

There is a well-entrenched group in town that continues to propose that IPL should spend tax dollars to build mammoth power plants. These power plants often cost over $2 billion to $3 billion. The discredited IPL idea to build a huge coal power plant in the Atherton Bottoms would have been a financial and environmental disaster. Leave it dead, Mr. Huff.

What we would appreciate would be for Huff to explain why our residential electric rates are too high (and we own the power company) and why our commercial and industrial electric rates are 10 to 20 percent higher than nearby KCP&L (what damage does that do to attracting new businesses to town) and why IPL offers no solutions.

Huff claims his expertise is with electric power as he was a senior manager for IPL and the eighth-highest paid person on the city payroll.

Mr. Huff was well paid by the taxpayers of Independence yet for several years he was delinquent in paying his local property tax bill. Local property taxes not only help pay for critical city services but also are the primary source of support for our schools. Huff finally paid his $14,000 property tax bill when his name was placed on the ballot.

 

Mount Washington area issues getting attention from the city

Jim Turner

Independence

My neighbor invited several of us to meet over at his house on the afternoon of March 2. We met with Councilman John Perkins, City Manager Zach Walker and Property Maintenance Manager Diane Egger to discuss our concerns and search for ideas to make things better for our historic Mount Washington community. We live here and want to continue living here.

The discussion was frank, with solutions offered. We could begin a neighborhood watch program to help combat crime. Mr. Walker said he would talk to the chief of police about helping us get one started. Mr. Perkins said the police can’t arrest people for wandering around, so a watch program will more likely help us to keep an eye on things and reduce crime.

The housing and livability situation here was greatly improved with the reconstruction of the old Mount Washington School into senior apartments. It apparently had been a hangout for people with no place to go, or vandals.

We asked for help to combat neglected properties that are abandoned, or potential flop houses. Ms. Eggers has her eye on a couple of structures and it sounded to me that she will address the properties that are in obvious disrepair and/or vacant. The first step in property maintenance is enforcement and that should make a difference.

We spent one and a half hours talking, walking, and looking at the things that concern us. We learned that one of the vacant properties was recently sold. Two days later, I saw that several abandoned vehicles have been removed.

We want to make this a better place to live and were impressed by the city’s response to our concerns. I encourage all Independence residents to let their council representative know if your neighborhood has any livability issues.

 

Federal revenue figures are always flawed

Don M. McNulty

Independence

I read your front page AP story concerning the U.S. government's budget and the deficits we are incurring. I am one who believes in a balanced budget amendment and hate the deficits we are forced to carry, but I also believe in fair and honest reporting, which the AP reporter so conveniently left out an integral part of the story. What was not reported was the federal government received $49 billion more than expected in January 2018 and is on track to beat the projection for February. I'm sure the OMB will adjust its figures going forward to more reflect the new projections.

Another thing that is rarely, if ever, reported: The OMB rarely is correct with any of its projections no matter who is in office and who is in power. Quite frankly, the department is about as worthless as the Department of Education.

 

An idea to improve safety in schools

James Heator

Blue Springs

Hello, I am 15 and going to the Freshmen Center in Blue Springs. I am a Boy Scout and I am working on the Communications Merit Badge, which has a requirement where I have to email an editor about a topic I want to discuss or tell you about. So I thought since there have been lot of school shootings on the news, it would be good to talk about a school-related issue.

I was thinking about it, and one thing I thought about is since we already have cameras and other protection, we should focus on smaller things like how the most recent school shooting that I have heard about was the Florida, one where he pulled the fire alarm and then shot the kids as they were running out the door.

I was thinking after talking with my dad about it that fire alarms should need a card to swipe onto the fire alarm to activate it that most teachers, janitors, counselors and principals already do for getting into the school. I was also thinking that they would also have to include a key to activate the fire alarm in case the fire or something made it to where electricity wasn't able to be used.

I hope you like my idea and maybe even make a story about it. It would be really cool to see my name on something important.