Some public expenditures just make sense.


Renewal of two sales taxes Aug. 3 is a great example.


Independence voters will be asked to continue a one-quarter-cent sales tax to pay for stormwater control and a one-eighth-cent sales tax to maintain and upgrade our parks. This is not a tax increase but a renewal of two fundamental revenue streams essential to the community.

Some public expenditures just make sense.


Renewal of two sales taxes Aug. 3 is a great example.


Independence voters will be asked to continue a one-quarter-cent sales tax to pay for stormwater control and a one-eighth-cent sales tax to maintain and upgrade our parks. This is not a tax increase but a renewal of two fundamental revenue streams essential to the community.


Now, let’s take a look at each, starting with stormwater control.


A quarter-cent sales tax is only a dime on $40 in purchases, but it raises about $3.6 million annually for some critically important services. Our recent heavy rains are a reminder of the importance of stormwater control.


Water runs off our roofs, streets, sidewalks and parking lots. Sometimes the water comes in torrents. Without a system of culverts and drain lines, our community and our homes would flood. The damage, not to mention pollution from street runoff, would be unimaginable.


Independence has 220 miles of public stormwater lines and 13,000 other structures such as culverts and inlets. The current quarter-cent sales tax has allowed us to make 54 permanent public improvements to alleviate flooding. Many more homes suffered flooding in the 1990s than do today.


Twenty-two stormwater projects are in various stages of development right now. Half of those might be shelved if the Aug. 3 renewal fails.


Few city services are more visible than parks and recreation. We treasure our green space, swimming pools, playgrounds, walking trails, athletic fields and indoor centers for community events, recreation and education.


Two prior sales tax measures, twice approved by voters, took a park system that was in embarrassing disrepair and created something deserving of community pride. We built the Independence Athletic Complex, Adventure Oasis Water Park and two spraygrounds. We reopened the Truman Memorial Building and created a senior center at the former Palmer Junior High School. The tax revenue gave us the beautiful 80-acre Waterfall Park at Bass Pro Shops and created a community ice rink next to the Independence Event Center, where the Missouri Mavericks play hockey.


The tax also keeps our trails, parks, playgrounds and picnic areas in good repair. Without the renewal, we would be back to where we were a decade ago. Our parks system would need of a lot of TLC. Do we want that again?


Other projects are possible if the parks measure passes. The new parks master plan includes more spray grounds, two large playgrounds, up to four more picnic areas, extra places to fish, new parks’ restrooms and the possible purchase of land for festivals and other large community events.


The parks portion of the Aug. 3 measure is just one-eighth of a cent, but it raises about $1.8 million annually. The cost to shoppers is only a nickel on $40 in purchases.


One thing to remember about sales taxes is that they are also paid by residents of other communities who spend money in Independence. In fact, about 47 percent of sales taxes are paid by non-residents. We can support these proven needs without increasing property taxes.


These renewals are needed and reasonable. The stormwater tax approved by voters 10 years ago expires Dec. 31. The parks tax, passed in 2002, expires in 2012.


The stormwater and parks expenditures are carefully monitored. Citizen panels meet regularly to review all projects and make reports to the City Council. The money can only be spent for stormwater and parks, not to cover other city budget needs. We’ve kept our word that these funds would be spent carefully and in the best interests of Independence residents. That will not change.


There is no expiration date on the renewals, although residents could petition for an election to repeal the taxes at any time. The city would save money and provide better stormwater and parks services if we can depend on funds long-term. That is what good planning is all about.


The Aug. 3 ballot measure is about quality of life for all of us. Please vote “yes” for yourself and your community.