Voters OK 10 more years of Platte Co. 3/8-cent sales tax
In the end, it wasn’t close.
Only 15.4 percent of registered Platte County voters went to the polls Tuesday. But of the 9,731 votes tallied, 5,559 were cast in support of renewing Platte County’s three-eighths-cent roads sales tax for another 10 years. That’s 57 percent of the vote compared to 4,172 votes in opposition, or 43 percent.
In approving the renewal measure, County voters supported a sales tax that has generated $51 million in revenues since it was first passed by voters in 2003. That money has been split 50-50 between municipalities in the County and the County and area road districts, resulting in the replacement/renovation of 22 County bridges rated either obsolete or deficient. It also funded more than 50 road projects/renovations, including the massive Barry Road/Interstate 29 interchange expansion and the improvements to some County roads that had never before seen asphalt.
Platte County 2nd District Commissioner Duane Soper, who along with 1st District Commissioner Beverlee Roper, championed the sales tax renewal, said with such a decisive margin, voters sent a clear message.
“Obviously, the people of Platte County decided they wanted to see continued improvements to our roads,” he said. “They had some faith in the people that put it on the ballot and I appreciate that. We will spend their money wisely.” Presiding Commissioner Jason Brown, who voted in January not to place the sales tax renewal on the ballot because he wanted to rework the roads tax to include funding for an unfunded, $11 million federally-mandated public safety radio system that the County still owes $10 million on, said those issues still remained.
“It (the roads tax renewal) passed,” he said. “And tomorrow when the County government opens its doors at 8 o’clock, we will still have the same issues with funding radio infrastructure.”
When asked about Brown’s comment, Soper agreed that pass or fail, the roads tax renewal does not solve the radio system funding.
“The radio funding is the same issue that’s been there for at least the last six years,” he said. “Previous Commissions have not addressed it, but this one will. But I think we will be in a better position because we will have our roads taken care of.”
According to County projections, the renewed tax will generate roughly $60 million in revenues over the next 10 years, to be split once again evenly between cities and the County/area road districts. Platte County Public Works Director Greg Sager said the County’s estimated $30 million would be used to replace 15 bridges and fund several major roadway projects, including widening Highway 45 all the way to Interstate 435 in southern Platte County and renovating Interurban Road — Platte County’s longest continuous road — from the Platte River to Dearborn. Sager also said the County’s portion of the roads tax revenues would fund approximately $8 million in maintenance/annual operations support to complement existing tax levy revenues of the County’s Public Works and the Farley, Weston, Platte City and Parkville Special Road districts.
The cities’ $30 million portion is estimated at $21 million after deducting $9 million in projected Tax Increment Financing payments — $7.5 million, Kansas City; $958,000, Parkville; $500,000, Riverside. Cities’ actual funding is based on per-capita population figures from the 2010 census. For instance, Kansas City would receive about $12 million, Platte City would receive about $2.1 million and Weston $762,000.
In addition to handily passing the roads sales tax renewal, voters authorized by a 59-41 percent margin the County to issue $20 million in bonds to back roads projects in advance of sales tax revenue collections.