The COMBAT tax is important to Blue Springs, too.

The message surrounding the quarter-cent sales tax – named the Community Backed Anti-drug Tax – came to Blue Springs City Council Monday, as Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders made his fast-talking pitch to council members and the public.

The COMBAT tax is important to Blue Springs, too.

The message surrounding the quarter-cent sales tax – named the Community Backed Anti-drug Tax – came to Blue Springs City Council Monday, as Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders made his fast-talking pitch to council members and the public.

As a former Jackson County prosecutor, Sanders could not emphasize enough the importance of the tax, which funds many county services, including one-third of the county prosecutor’s budget; it also funds a portion of the drug task force and the popular and successful DARE program.

Mayor Carson Ross focused specifically on the DARE program, calling it one of the most successful programs in the school district.

“We all know the importance of that program,” Ross said.

Blue Springs Police Chief Wayne McCoy echoed that statement, calling the city’s DARE program “one of the finest in the county” and responsible for helping parents and children in difficult situations. Funds for the city’s Community Youth Outreach Unit could also be reduced and/or elimated, according to McCoy.

Additional funds from the tax fund drug prevention programs and treatment, as well as two floors of the county jail housing of 260 inmates, matching grant requirements and drug court.

While Blue Springs doesn’t experience the level of crime like neighboring Independence or Kansas City, Sanders said it is nevertheless important to the city. He said officers from Blue Springs work in the drug task force.

“The drug task force is the enforcement arm of the community,” Sanders said.

The tax comes up for a vote on Nov 3. If passed by a simple majority, it is expected to bring in $19.5 million this year, though in more prosperous economic times, it has generated as much as $21.9 million.

Sanders stressed Monday that the tax would not raise the tax amount beyond what it is now. He said it’s critical in preventing what happened in the county in the mid-90s: the meth scare.

“I received four to five search warrants a day back then,” he said. “Now it’s my understanding that a warrant is issued only a couple times a month. That success can be attributed to COMBAT.”

McCoy, who served as chairman of the board for the county task force, said it is one of the most effective reasons that meth laboratories have been curtailed in Eastern Jackson County.

“I know the impact made by the JCDTF,” McCoy said. “Without COMBAT, we would not be able to maintain personnel at the task force that links enforcement agencies across the county.  Drug dealers do not respect jurisdictional lines.”

The Blue Springs department has three full-time officers (each of whom are fully funded by the tax) assigned to the task force, which in turn works directly with the city’s street crimes unit. Losing the tax would mean losing personnel. Programs and services, like the DARE program, would be impacted or possibly terminated, McCoy said, depending on budget availability.