The names of the members of the Platte County Commission’s new tax advisory committee were approved this week, though the first meeting date for the group has not yet been announced.
The committee will be chaired by former county auditor Sandra Thomas, but she isn’t the only former county official on the roster. Former assistant director of parks Jim Kunce and former director of planning and zoning Aaron Schmidt will also serve on the committee, as will Shane Bartee, who serves on the West Platte Board of Education, Angie Mutti, executive director of the Platte City Chamber of Commerce and Wes Minder, engineer with the City of Kansas City and owner of the Linecreek Loudmouth blog.
Other members of the committee are Gordon Cook, Rick Easley, Gina James, Dave Ketchmark and Jim McCall.
According to the resolution approved at the Monday, Oct. 7 commission administrative session the committee will “make a tax structure recommendation concerning dedicated funding for long term predictable financial stability that prioritizes law enforcement operations and supports parks and stormwater operations and maintenance.”
“I’m very pleased we’re taking this step,” said presiding commission Ron Schieber. “This will have a significant impact on the future of the county.”
David Park — who ran against Schieber for presiding commissioner last fall and plans to run for second district commissioner next year — asked if the committee had a timetable for its work. He also wondered if commissioners had a target date to put any potential sales tax question on the ballot next year as the parks and stormwater tax will expire at the end of the year.
Schieber said the committee will be creating a 10-year plan and there are three possible election dates next year, in April, August and November. No date has yet been chosen.
“We don’t want to rush the committee,” said commissioner Dagmar Wood. “We don’t have a goal of when we want this on the ballot.”
Park also questioned how much flexibility the committee would have to include future parks capital improvements in the 10-year plan. He also cited a recent document distributed to the park board outlining scenarios for spending if the parks sales tax is reduced from one-half cent to one-quarter or three-eighths.
Commissioners said these scenarios were just that, to give staff, board members and committee members a starting point for reference purposes.
Park also said with population growth expected in unincorporated Platte County over the next decade the county needs to keep in mind that while the cities of Parkville and Kansas City have dedicated parks funding source, many communities do not.
He and commissioner John Elliott also exchanged opinions on reconfiguring use tax, as use tax generated as part of the parks tax has historically gone into general revenue instead of the parks fund. In turn, the sheriff’s office has been funded through general revenue. Reduction or reconfiguration of this structure could effectively cut funding to the sheriff’s office, Park said.
Elliott argued that the county planned to establish a dedicated funding source for the sheriff’s office through reconfiguration of the tax structure.
The first meeting of the sales tax committee has not yet been scheduled.
BODY SCANNER AT JAIL
Also at the meeting, the commission approved the purchase of a full body scanner for the Plate County Sheriff’s Office at a cost of about $167,000.
Major Erik Holland said the move was made due, in part, to changes in laws governing cavity searches performed in the detention center.
He cited one recent example, where a man was transferred to Platte County from federal custody and police kept locating weapons on him. The man had learned how to conceal razor blades in a cavity he had created in his mouth.
Drugs, weapons and other contraband are concealed in various ways, he said, and the scanner makes locating the items safer for both staff and the inmate. Some items must be referred to a physician for removal.