Voters in Blue Summit will decide Tuesday if a reduction in property taxes is enough to enact a new half-cent sales tax to generate revenue for capital improvements for the Inter City Fire Protection District.

Voters in Blue Summit will decide Tuesday if a reduction in property taxes is enough to enact a new half-cent sales tax to generate revenue for capital improvements for the Inter City Fire Protection District.
Monte Olsen, district manager, said if the new half-cent sales tax is approved it would allow the district to purchase additional fire hydrants and offer incentives for the all-volunteer fire department – the last remaining all-volunteer department in Jackson County.
The district serves Blue Summit, an unicorporated area of around 700 residents between western Independence and Kansas City.
“Eventually we hope we will be able to pay these volunteers in the future,” Olsen said, adding the district plans to install most of the fire hydrants in the area of the Blue Ridge Mobile Home Park on Blue Ridge Boulevard.
Olsen said the district’s board of directors are proposing a property tax reduction in exchange for the half-cent sales tax increase. Currently, there is a half-cent sales tax rate in the district, beyond the state and county property taxes. The increase could raise an additional $50,000 to $70,000, Olsen said.
“The law requires that half of the sales tax raised must be given back to the property owners,” Olsen said, adding the tax would not go into effect until March of 2010. “Based on the current tax, the property tax would decrease by about 60 percent. That’s significant.”
Most of the sales tax would be paid by commuters or by outside businesses conducting business in the district, Olsen said.
“It’s very rare that a government entity is able to go to the voters and basically say: ‘Please vote for this sales tax increase because it is going to reduce your property taxes so significantly.’ But, Blue Summit is unique. Most of the residents are not the ones paying the sales tax.”
Olsen said the district is expecting a low to moderate turnout on Tuesday, where a simple majority is needed to approve the measure.
“It’s an unique opportunity,” Olsen said.