Without the property tax increase on the April 3 ballot, Independence is already spending more per capita for police service than any of our suburban neighbors. The fact Kansas City spends more and has more police per capita but also has significantly more crime shows there is no direct relationship between either spending or more police and crime rates.
Marilyn Wright is a former Independence City Council member.
To the editor:
Without the property tax increase on the April 3 ballot, Independence is already spending more per capita for police service than any of our suburban neighbors. The fact Kansas City spends more and has more police per capita, but also has significantly more crime, shows there is no direct relationship between either spending or more police and crime rates.
The Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment, which actually implemented three different types of patrols, showed that “increasing or decreasing the level of patrol had no significant effect on residential and commercial burglaries, auto thefts, larcenies...crimes.”
According to the Independence original fiscal year 2011-12 operating budget, page 151, the per capita expenditure for police has increased from $195.90 to $237.58 in the last five years. (Springfield, Mo., a larger city, spends $152 per capita.) In this five years, Independence has added 7.15 full-time equivalent police employees. Total police appropriations have increased $5,041,195 since fiscal year 2006-07. The budgeted expenditure for police this year is $27,756,198. This $27.8 million is more than any other city department costs taxpayers.
Of the total spent for police, most comes from general funds – 1 percent sales tax, franchise fees, pilots, property tax, fines and other fees. For this year that amounts to $24,885,849. The rest comes from the 1/8 cent police sales tax, which amounts to $2,870,346.
With an additional property tax, estimated to generate $3.7 million per year, the city theoretically could cut the police budget to $6.6 million total (the dedicated $3.7 million plus the $2.9 million) and still comply with the deceptive word “solely” in the April 3 ballot question. In other words, only $6.6 million is “dedicated,” but the other $24.9 million is “not” dedicated and can easily and legally be shifted to other uses.
The bottom line, police have no guarantee their numbers will increase and no guarantee of further pay raises when their 5-year work agreement expires in June. Citizens have no guarantee of protection or a further cut in crime rates if voters approve a property tax increase ($36.29 per $10,000 assessed value) April 3. What is guaranteed is higher utility bills and higher taxes!
Do you really believe the city needs more than $27.8 million every year for adequate police service?