Archive for Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Likely outcome of sales tax ballot questions unclear

October 31, 2012

City officials in Bonner Springs and Edwardsville await a big surprise when election polls close Tuesday night.

After a month of providing information about quarter-cent sales tax questions each city has placed on the ballot — an extension of an existing tax for Bonner, and two possible new sales taxes for Edwardsville — officials say they have heard next to nothing from residents about the taxes at informational meetings each city conducted. No known opposition groups have formed in either city.

On the Ballot

Races and issues Wyandotte County voters in Bonner Springs or Edwardsville will see on their ballots Election Day are as follows:

National offices

• President

• U.S. Representative, 3rd District

State offices/issues

• State Senator, 5th District (Bonner Springs and most of Edwardsville)

• State Senator, 6th District (Edwardsville east of 102nd Street)

• State Representative, 33rd District

• State Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judge retention

• Constitutional amendment for watercraft property taxes

Local issues

• 29th District court judges

• Bonner Springs Emergency Services Sales Tax

• Edwardsville Public Safety Sales Tax

• Edwardsville Parks and Recreation Sales Tax

Bonner Springs held an informational meeting about the continuation of its emergency services sales tax on Oct. 24, and only two people showed up: one a resident in favor of the tax, the other an area political candidate. Edwardsville held two meetings about their proposed quarter-cent sales taxes, one to support public safety and another to support parts and recreation, on Oct. 16 and 27. No one attended either meeting.

Clausie Smith, mayor of Bonner Springs, chooses to look at the situation as “no news is good news.”

“When people don’t show up, they generally agree with you,” he said. “When they show up en masse, that’s something different.”

In Edwardsville, Mike Webb, city manager, said he and his staff haven’t received any phone calls about the sales tax ballot questions, either pro or con. He isn’t sure if voter apathy is to blame, but he worries it means the voters don’t know about the ballot questions.

“I think the concern is that people aren’t aware of the sales tax election, and then they get to the polls and if you’re not knowledgeable of what the topic is, you’re concerned people will vote no,” Webb said. “We’re not here to be an opponent or proponent, but we’re here to make sure the public is informed on what the sales taxes are and how they would support parks and public safety.”

While no one attended the informational meetings that the city scheduled, Webb said city staff left printed information at Edwardsville City Park, the site of Saturday’s meeting, throughout the day, and some parks and recreation staff members reported residents taking the informational pamphlets and asking some questions about the taxes.

Smith said given the people he has spoken with around town, he believes residents support Bonner’s tax.

“I think most people agree with the continuation of this sales tax,” he said. “We’ve tried to show them what we’ve done with the money ... I’m not finding many people that are opposed to it at all. Everybody I’ve talked to is in favor of it.”

The Chieftain posted two polls, one for each city, on its website, asking if residents support the taxes, but the polls have only garnered a handful of votes as of Wednesday. No votes had been cast in the poll asking if residents would support the continuation of Bonner’s tax.

Just six votes were tallied on Edwardsville’s poll: three saying they wouldn’t vote for either tax, two saying they would vote for only the public safety sales tax, and one saying they would vote for both taxes.

Both polls will remain open for votes at bonnersprings.com until 7 p.m. Monday. Also find stories explaining each city’s uses for the taxes.

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