Why KC's complex sales tax plan is in trouble
The Kansas City Star
I’m back from the weekly “Ruckus” taping for KCPT (we taped a day early) and I can officially report that KC’s proposed sales tax increase for the Aug. 7 ballot is in trouble.
That’s because the complexity of the proposal had even the two most liberal tax-and-spenders on the panel wondering whether it was a good idea.
And when those questions are being asked, it’s worth asking this: Can the city make the sales tax plan less complicated? Or should it even postpone asking for the tax increase until November, to put together a better plan?
The questions asked today on Ruckus indicate to me that I’m not the only one hoping Mayor Sly James and the City Council on Thursday develop very clear ballot language for Aug. 7. In other words, tell people how the money is going to be used, without looking like a shell game is being played.
That will be difficult, though, given all the moving parts of this plan.
Take a look at it this way:
When zoo supporters wanted a higher sales tax to pay for a better zoo in 2011, they sold it this way: Increase your taxes and you’ll get a better zoo.
But here’s what James and council members appear ready to ask KC voters on Aug. 7 while seeking a half-cent sales tax increase:
Increase your taxes and we will eliminate a license fee (that’s already dead, fyi), give the money to the Parks Department, free up millions in the general fund for road repairs and also stop collecting at least three property taxes.
Walk through the plan and, frankly, it can make some sense: Give people a chance to reduce their property taxes a little bit in exchange for a higher sales tax.
But it’s still going to be tough to sell to voters in August, as my experience on ‘Ruckus’ indicated today.