Archive for Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Council opts not to put sales tax on April ballot

January 16, 2013

The city of Bonner Springs won’t ask voters about renewing a sales tax currently used to fund payments for the city’s aquatic park — at least, not in this spring’s election.

Last year, Bonner Springs City Council members briefly discussed the possibilities for continuing the 2004 quarter-cent sales tax for another purpose, as it is set to end when it has collected $3.5 million for the aquatic center improvements, which is estimated to occur in December. On Monday, council members decided April’s election would be too soon to bring the matter before the voters, deciding it would be better to have a special election if the council still supports it following this spring’s elections.

In November’s elections, the city focused on renewing its Emergency Services Sales Tax. On Monday, in a workshop prior to the council’s regular meeting, John “Jack” Helin, city manager, again asked the council if they thought they should ask residents to continue the aquatic park sales tax this spring, using it instead for capital improvement projects.

He said the city also could have a special election to ask that the tax be “renewed” for a new purpose, though the election would have to take place in the early fall, as the city would have to pass an ordinance by Oct. 1 for the tax to be continuous. A special election would cost the city about $3,500.

A one-quarter of one percent sales tax means that a quarter of a cent in tax is paid on every $1 purchase — or one penny for every $4 purchase.

Councilman Bob Reeves said he supported the idea of putting the tax on April’s ballot only because if it failed, there still would be time to have a special election and try again.

But Councilman Rodger Shannon said he and other council members are focusing on their own election campaigns this spring, and if the city were to ask voters to consider the sales tax, he would rather all council members be focused only on that election.

Councilman Jeff Harrington agreed that other issues outweighed the benefit of allowing for a “second chance,” saying any new council members elected this spring may not support extending the tax.

Councilman Tom Stephens said he also would like to give more distance between sales tax elections, since the Emergency Services tax was just considered in November.

In other election-related items, Mayor Clausie Smith asked that the council consider a charter ordinance to make the mayor’s term four years long rather than two beginning in 2015. Smith said Bonner was one of very few cities that had the shorter terms, noting Edwardsville now had four-year mayoral terms. The council agreed to add the matter to a future agenda.

Council members George Cooper and Eric Freeman didn’t attend the workshop or the regular meeting.

In other business, the council:

• Heard from Harrington, who thanked community for outpouring of support for parents, whose home was destroyed in a fire Jan. 11.

• Approved all items on the consent agenda; Harrison abstained from voting on checks in the claims for city operations related to his family’s business.

• Heard from a representative from Nettleton Manor about safety measures to cross the Cedar/Kump Avenue to reach the public parking lot.

• Approved final plans for the 134th Street utility relocation project and authorized advertisement for construction bids.

• Approved KDOT utility agreements for 134th Street utility relocation project.

• Approved a resolution to commence condemnation for the 134th Street utility relocation project for construction easements. Rita Hoag, city clerk, said the city is still negotiating with five of the 29 affected property owners, and while she thinks they will be able to reach an agreement before condemnation is necessary, the city needed to pass the resolution for condemnation just in case it became necessary.

• Approved final payment for the Riverview Avenue waterline project phase A.

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