Independence officials again are thinking of going to the voters for the money to add police officers.
The need for more police has been clear for years. What is less clear is whether the public can be convinced to add a little bit more to the local sales tax. That concern has already delayed getting this on the ballot once.
The issue would go on the ballot in August, and officials have less than a month to tell the public which way they’re going and file the paperwork for an election. The City Council takes up the issue Monday evening.
In most parts of Independence, the sales tax is 7.6 percent (higher in some places such as the special district with an added tax to pay for the arena under construction in southeast Independence). That 7.6 percent breaks down like this:
• 4.225 percent to the state, some of which is earmarked for specific uses such as parks and conservation. Some items such as groceries are generally exempt from this tax.
• 1.125 percent to Jackson County, divided three ways. The county’s general fund gets 0.5 percent, that is, a nickel for every $10 spent. The county’s long-time and generally successful anti-drug efforts get 0.25 percent, and 0.375 percent goes for the Truman Sports Complex, including the recent renovations at Kauffman Stadium and the ones under way at Arrowhead Stadium.
• The city gets the remaining 2.25 percent, and it’s divided several ways. For general spending, the city gets 1 percent. Fire protection, parks and stormwater work each get 0.25 percent, and 0.375 percent goes for streets. Remembering how bad the streets were 10 years ago, that’s been a good investment. Finally, 0.125 percent is for capital improvements, such as equipment, for the police. That’s helped, but it hasn’t added cops on the beat.
So the question is whether city officials and others who see a need to put more into police protection can make the case for nudging up the sales tax rate a little more.