Archive for Wednesday, February 6, 2002

Excise tax to face public vote

February 6, 2002

Basehor residents will have a chance to decide the fate of the city's controversial transportation excise tax through a public vote.

A petition against the excise tax, which was to be used for road improvements, was filed with Leavenworth County officials last week.

The petition reportedly had more than 100 signatures.

Leavenworth County officials validated the petition shortly after its submittal. The tax, which had Basehor City Council approval, will now go to a public vote.

The transportation excise tax is a nine-cents per square foot fee applied to new developments in the city.

The fee also applies to those that remodel more than 51 percent over the valuation of their property. City officials placed a $10,000 cap on property owners making more than the 51 percent improvements.

Basehor resident Howard Rogers said his goal in signing the petition was always to put the levy to a vote. At this point, Rogers is not for or against the excise tax, he said.

"I think the citizens should have a say on something of this type," Rogers said. "My feeling on this situation is the mayor and the City Council have been putting things through that the citizens have not agreed with.

"The citizens should have more of a say in what they do."

The City Council will decide at their next meeting on Feb. 19 when the vote will be scheduled.

Basehor City Council member Chris Garcia said the vote probably would be scheduled to coincide with elections in April.

State law requires the vote to take place within 90 days of the petition's validation.

Since its proposal, the excise tax has been a source of debate between city officials and some Basehor residents.

City officials said the funds gained through the excise tax would be used for improvements to commonly used city streets, such as 155th, 158th, 150th and Parallel Road.

Without the excise tax, property taxes for all residents could be raised by as much as 40 percent, city officials said.

Those opposed to the excise tax said it would discourage the economic development that the city is already lacking.

Should the excise tax fail in the public vote, Garcia said the City Council would seek other measures before approving an increase to the mill levy.

"We'll look at other things before that happens," Garcia said. "That would be the last option we would consider."

One option, Garcia said, would be to implement an impact fee for all developments coming to the city.

The impact fee would require developers to pay a set fee before getting their building permits.

Before the petition, city officials hoped to implement the excise tax in March.

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