A week from today, registered voters in Jackson County have the opportunity to vote on whether to once again extend the quarter-cent COMBAT tax.

A week from today, registered voters in Jackson County have the opportunity to vote on whether to once again extend the quarter-cent COMBAT tax.

COMBAT stands for Community Backed Anti Drug Tax. It was first passed by voters in 1989, and renewed in 1995 and 2003.

The tax generates $19.5 million per year in revenue, of which county officials claim 40 percent is paid by people who live outside of Jackson County who come here to shop, eat or for entertainment.

The tax money provides funding for 80 different agencies in Jackson County that work to remove, prevent and treat drug offenders in our community.

The Examiner has done extensive reporting on the COMBAT tax, sat through countless presentations, talked to county officials, analyzed data, and come to one conclusion.

We need this tax.

When crime is an increasing concern in our communities, few of our tax contributions make as large of impact for our own public safety as does the COMBAT tax. We can not afford to take nearly $20 million of crime enforcement and prevention off the streets.

There are literally hundreds of bullet points we could make in this space demonstrating the important ways in which the $20 million is spent, but because of space restrictions, we will give just a few examples.

Nearly 10 percent of the tax revenue funds the Eastern Jackson County Drug Task Force, a multi-jurisdictional police force funded entirely by the tax that has helped produce 11,000 arrests and remove more than $250 million in drugs from the county since 2002.

 

Nearly 10 percent goes to the Prosecutor’s Office, accounting for about one-third of its budget, or 44 staff positions. Prosecutor Jim Kanatzar said his office would face massive layoffs if the tax fails.

 

Six percent of the tax funds the DARE program, a drug prevention program aimed at fifth-graders.

 

The tax funds 42 police officers, including officers in Independence, Blue Springs, Sugar Creek, Oak Grove and the Sheriff’s Department.

 

The tax funds two floors of the Jackson County jail, including about 60 staff.

 

The tax funds the county’s drug court, which punishes and rehabilitates offenders, as well as other drug treatment and prevention units.


It is important to remember the COMBAT tax is not a tax increase, but merely an extension of a current quarter-cent tax.

It has proven well worth the cost, and well worth a yes vote.