Independence voters decisively approved a local use tax for online retail sales Tuesday, providing funding for animal shelter operations and to add police officers.
Voters approved Proposition P with 4,409 yes votes (55.65 percent) to 3,514 no votes. City officials and campaign leaders projected Proposition P will generate about $1.5 million annually at first – to be split evenly for the no-kill Regional Animal Shelter and hiring more officers.
Tax funds will be monitored by citizen oversight committees. As tax revenues grow due to increased online sales, and sufficient animal shelter funding has been reached, the tax money would go solely toward more police officers until 30 new positions have been added, a process expected to take several years. Only after that would the general fund receive any of the new tax revenue.
Adding police officers to a force of just over 200 sworn officers has long been a city goal.
The city assumed control of the animal shelter last month after Jackson County's prior operator, Great Plains SPCA, cited financial constraints and announced just a year into a new five-year contract with city and county that it would leave. The city had been paying more than $500,000 annually to the county, and the county paid $240,000 this year to purchase the animal shelter land (and lease it back to the city for $1) and kicked in another $100,000 to aid with the transition.