Language can really trip you up. I’m reminded of that just about every day with any number of stupid typos I make that get caught. Also the ones that don’t get caught. It’s a battle.
The City of Platte City must prepare to fight language in an attempt to retain tax money that seems insignificant but remains very important to city services. That will be the position Platte City city administrator DJ Gehrt will maintain with a ballot initiative set to go before citizens in April.
Basically, the city needs voters to vote not in order to redefine an existing tax under a new classification so the money can continue to be collected. Currently, the city collects sales tax on motor vehicles, boats, trailers and outboard motors purchased in another state but registered within city limits.
The money collected helps fund the Platte City Police Department, Platte City Public Works Department, street maintenance, snow removal, stormwater projects, park improvements, park maintenance and youth and adult sports leagues.
However, a recent ruling in the Missouri Supreme Court and resulting legislation requires taxing entities to have a voter-approved use tax to continue using a local sales tax on these items purchased outside the state of Missouri. Platte City estimates this to be about $52,000 annually but this uses a model that doesn’t account for a municipality’s location in relation to a state line.
In case you forgot or just aren’t good with maps, Kansas is like right there. We can basically throw a rock into Kansas from Platte City.
The specific ballot language is shown below:
“Shall the City of Platte City discontinue applying and collecting the local sales tax on the titling of motor vehicles, trailers, boats and outboard motors that were purchased from a source other than a licensed Missouri dealer?
“Approval of this measure will result in a reduction of local revenue to provide for vital services in Platte City and it will place Missouri dealers of motor vehicles, outboard motors, boats and trailers at a competitive disadvantage to nonMissouri dealers of motor vehicles, outboard motors, boats and trailers.”
A “yes” vote means the tax will end, and the city will lose existing revenue, while a “no” vote means that the current tax will remain in place as a use tax, revenues will remain unchanged and Missouri car dealers will not be placed at a disadvantage compared to out-of-state dealers.
Platte City could have changed the language but said that presents an issue.
Other taxing entities in Missouri that have made the switch all received approval, but at least two changed the language to make it less confusing. The problem: the state will not uphold its validity if a citizen questions the tax without the state-approved language.
Platte City will be a bit of a guinea pig in this scenario with other places, including Parkville, awaiting results before going forth with their own ballot question.
No one likes taxes. The big question for Platte City residents would be if this limited application issue has enough effect on their wallets to vote it out.
The Platte City Board of Aldermen approved the ballot measure with a 4-1 vote with Tony Paolillo the dissenting voice. He sees this as a new tax, which technically it is, so he voted no on principal.
Others could just consider buying local and not worrying about it. The city keeps its money and you help a local business.
I’ve come to appreciate the annual updates of Platte County Economic Development Council executive director Alicia Stephens. She’s really good at highlighting job growth, facility expansion and investment in our communities.
All of that stuff appeared in our paper, highlighting the group’s annual award luncheon. But for the past two years, the really important part of her updates can be condensed: Costco hasn’t made a decision; Sam’s Club still owns land but hasn’t started building; the new bridge over Interstate 29 at NW Old Tiffany Springs Road is coming … at some point.
These seem to be common questions from citizens so I’m providing the answer.
Stephens indicates that Costco officials want a Northland location but continue to weigh the options while keeping the final decision a secret. The warehouse style shopping behemoth could very well relocate to the Tiffany Springs area, but the Metro North development in Clay County could be a possibility, too, among others.
Regardless, a new overpass could help ease access to a Tiffany Springs location and that of the eventual Sam’s Club, should construction ever start. Stephens said money continues to collect for the project with grant application out, but the work still remains in the future tense until you hear a solid date.
The KCI Airport terminal question became a little more complicated when an independent group presented an alternative renovation plan through the local media.
Bill Graham goes into more detail about the latest development below, but you might recall that an advisory group has told the Kansas City City Council that new terminal construction would be cheaper than the proposed massive renovations. This most recent plan questions that theory but also misses out another key point: cheapest might not be the preference.
Stephens reminded the assembled crowd at the most recent meeting of Platte City Area Chamber of Commerce lunch, and I find it very valid.
Some will certainly latch onto this new proposal and cite it as a cost-effective way to improve but keep the conveniences. But ultimately, if the airlines aren’t happy then ain’t nobody happy, if you know what I mean.
The carriers will have a lot of the ultimate say because you can’t operate an airport with new or renovated terminals if the airlines don’t want to fly in and out of there. Seems pretty simple to me.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.