Local government must focus on basic services, and crime prevention is crucial to maintaining a good quality of life and continued growth in any community.
That’s why it makes sense to vote for three-eighths-cent sales tax on the ballot in Independence next Tuesday. The tax would put more officers on the streets, a need that has been clear and compelling for several years.
This support comes with a caveat. The city cannot keep paying for every new need with another sliver of a penny in sales taxes. In addition to the 1-cent general city sales tax, the city is collecting earmarked taxes – all voter approved – for streets, parks, stormwater improvements, fire protection and police capital improvements. The state takes its cut, with some earmarked for schools and conservation. Ditto the county, with some specified for stadiums and fighting drugs.
Add it up: The total in Independence is 7.6 percent – and higher in places such as parts of southeast Independence where there are added taxes for streets and the city arena set to open this fall.
Some of these taxes sunset from time to time, although local and statewide voters have chosen to keep them in place. The state conservation tax, the county anti-drug tax and the city’s street tax are all examples of programs that have delivered as promised, thanks in part to full and periodic public scrutiny. That’s commendable. Still, at some point, enough is enough.
The city should see clear benefits of having more cops on patrol, responding to calls more quickly, getting a few more bad guys off the streets and just preventing mischief and suffering with their mere presence. It would be unwise to try to hold the city’s crime problems at bay with current resources. It’s not realistic, and the costs to the community would far outweigh another sliver of penny for every dollar spent at the grocery store.
Where does it go?
The sales tax rate in Independence is 7.6 percent. Here’s where it goes:
State – 4.225 percent overall:
• 3 percent – general
• 1 percent – education
• 0.125 percent – conservation
• 0.1 percent – parks and soils
Jackson County – 1.125 percent overall
• 0.5 percent – general
• 0.25 percent – anti-drug (COMBAT)
• 0.375 percent – stadium renovations
City – 2.25 percent overall
• 1 percent – general
• 0.375 percent – streets
• 0.25 percent – parks
• 0.25 percent – stormwater
• 0.25 percent – fire
• 0.125 police capital improvements
The city’s overall rate would rise to 2.625 percent if voters approve the 0.375 percent tax for added police.