A tax Jackson County voters approved two and a half years ago has generated $25 million, which has been given to dozens of local groups for services ranging from dealing with domestic violence and homelessness to making sure young children are ready when they reach kindergarten.
“”It’s a pretty broad spectrum of services that we’re able to provide,” Rob Whitten, executive director of the Children’s Services Fund told county legislators this week.
The one-eighth-cent tax went into effect two years ago this month, and revenues have been shy of what was estimated when it was on the ballot in late 2016. Advocates said it would raise about $15 million a year. In 2018, the tax’s first full year, it brought in $13.1 million.
Altogether, it’s raised $25 million in two years.
Whitten said the fund has been able to say yes to about 60 percent of the funding requests that have been submitted.
The 53 funding recipients in 2018 included the Community Services League, which serves most of Eastern Jackson County; Children’s Mercy Hospital; Hope House, which serves women and children affected by domestic violence; Comprehensive Mental Health Services; the Independence School District; and the Child Abuse Prevention Association, based in Independence.
Those programs have already reached tens of thousands of young people, Whitten said. One recent round of funding for school-based programs, for instance, covered services for more than 8,000 children in Eastern Jackson County.
The tax would be up for renewal in 2023.
Legislator Crystal Williams, D-Kansas City, stressed that “... we are looking at the most at-risk children” in the community and that the aim of the tax is to ultimately save public money by intervening now to head off troubles down the road.