Reardon: casino funds should be used to lower property taxes
In his 2012 State of the Government address, Joe Reardon, mayor and CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., is calling for millions of dollars in new casino revenues be used for long-term reductions in local property taxes.
Reardon gave his address Tuesday at the annual State of the Government event sponsored by the Kansas City, Kan., Rotary Club at the Jack Reardon Civic Centre. In the speech text released by the Unified Government, Reardon stated cutting property taxes should be the first commitment Unified Government officials make with the casino revenues, and he is urging other elected boards to follow.
“I commit to you today that I will support a budget that holds the line on property taxes next year and develops a plan for the long-term property tax reduction our citizens deserve,” Reardon stated in his speech text. “Even in the midst of challenging economic times, it is time for the Unified Government to get to work, get back on track, and move forward with our long-term strategy to lower property taxes.”
More than 400 people attended the annual State of the Government Address in which the Mayor reported, ”the State of the Unified Government is strong and the community is poised to continue our progress and ready to rise to our new challenges.”
Reardon touted a long list of economic development successes in Wyandotte County, including construction of the Cerner Corporation Office complex in Village West; a new corporate headquarters for Associated Wholesale Grocers; the opening of LiveStrong Sporting Park and the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway. Those developments are creating thousands of new jobs.
But Reardon emphasized the historic growth is not just in Village West, but throughout the entire city, ranging from entertainment venues, manufacturing plants, health care facilities, new grocery stores and new retail stores across the city.
Mayor Reardon outlined a plan to spend the 1 percent of casino revenues designated for community projects on improving the health of children, seniors, and young persons in Kansas City, Kan. Reardon is proposing a new health and wellness center in the urban core providing “young people, families and senior citizens a first class place to gather, exercise, swim, learn about healthy eating and lifestyles.”
Reardon said he wants construction of the health and wellness center to begin as soon as 2013.
The Mayor also proposed an innovative new program to improve neighborhood parks. The program would provide $25,000 grants to four parks each year. Neighborhood groups would help select the parks that need the most attention and warrant improvements.
Mayor Reardon stressed the important role of public safety in providing a quality community, noting that while last year showed a slight increase in overall crime, 2011 marked the fourth consecutive year KCK experienced fewer than 1,000 violent crimes. The number of violent crimes in KCK has dropped 65 percent since its high in 1991.
Reardon praised citizens for the dramatic successes in Wyandotte County.
“What rests at the heart of our efforts is our community’s willingness to overcome any obstacle or adversity put before us, rolling up our sleeves, standing side-by-side, and believing that together we can make Wyandotte County a better place to live, work, learn, play and raise our children,” Reardon stated.