Voters to decide on schools, public safety

By Mike Genet
The Examiner

Tuesday’s elections have numerous local city, school district and fire district issues, though most voters will have ballots with just a couple items. 

Polls in Missouri are open at 6 a.m. to 7 p.m

Among the items to be considered around Eastern Jackson County:

• The Independence School District is asking voters to approve $43 million in bonds, with no tax increase, to upgrade safety and security measures around the district, the fine arts and auditorium facilities at the high schools and playground equipment around the elementary schools.

Voters overwhelmingly approved the previous bond issue in 2017, which led to a new elementary school and significant projects at the three high schools.

• The Fort Osage School District seeks approval for $20 million in bonds, with no tax increase, to renovate kitchen facilities across the district and construct a new building for district administration, transportation and maintenance offices. The district also is asking for a 32-cent levy transfer, spread over three years, to allow the district to build a new high school gymnasium and expand the band room.

• The city of Blue Springs hopes to continue without sunset the half-cent sales tax for parks. Funds would be used for continued planned park rehabilitations, developing at least one new park on the city’s south end and building an aquatic center next to the Fieldhouse. The parks sales tax, initially voted for 2017, is set to expire in September 2022 and has funded significant improvements at several parks.

• The Central Jackson County Fire Protection District is asking voters for $10 million in bonds, with no tax increase, to build and equip an additional fire station north of Interstate 70, as well as a 30-cent levy increase that would pay for 24 firefighters to staff the station. The district, which includes most of Blue Springs and Grain Valley and surrounding unincorporated areas and all of Lake Tapawingo, has not had a levy increase in nearly two decades.

• In Grain Valley, all three incumbents on the Grain Valley Board of Aldermen face challengers for another two-year term. In Ward 1, former Alderman Dale Arnold is again running against Tom Cleaver. Darren Mills is challenging Ward 2 incumbent Nancy Totton, and Kristen Rising is challenging Ward 3 incumbent Shea Bass.

• Voters in eight metro area school districts, including Grain Valley and Oak Grove, will decide if their districts will become part of the Metropolitan Community College district, giving students from those districts access to nearly 50 percent lower tuition rates for MCC classes.

If approved, property owners would be assessed a 21-cent tax levy per $100 assessed value. For Grain Valley and Oak Grove voters in Jackson County, that equates to about $40 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

• In Sugar Creek, Mayor Mike Larson and City Marshal (chief of police) Chris Soule are running for re-election, opposed by Geoffrey Jay and Tom Butkovich, respectively. Nancy Griego is also challenging incumbent Chuck Mikulich for a Board of Alderman seat.

• The Blue Springs, Fort Osage, Lee’s Summit, Grain Valley and Oak Grove school districts have some school board seats up for election, though Grain Valley’s seats are uncontested.