Excise tax public meetings scheduled
Basehor Mayor Bill Hooker said it's important for people to know the facts before going to the polls April 2.
And for that reason, Basehor city officials have scheduled two public meetings at the end of March concerning the city's transportation excise tax.
The meetings will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 21, and Monday, March 25, at Basehor City Hall.
Hooker said city residents are encouraged to attend and ask questions or make comments about the proposed excise tax.
"That's what it's geared to, we want people to ask questions," Hooker said.
The transportation excise tax is a nine cents per square foot levy placed on new developments or those that choose to remodel more than 51 percent of the assessed valuation of their property.
City officials said the remodeling portion of the excise tax is not expected to produce a significant amount of revenue.
A cap of $10,000 has been placed on the remodeling part of the excise tax.
The funds gained through the excise tax would be used to pay for road improvements to heavily-traveled city streets, such as 155th, 150th, 158th, Parallel and Leavenworth Road.
A citizens' petition against the excise tax was filed and validated by the Leavenworth County Clerk's Office, causing the need for the public vote.
More than 100 registered city voters signed the petition.
Since the excise tax was proposed, a debate has raged between city officials and Basehor residents opposed to the excise tax.
City officials said the tax is necessary for road improvements. Hooker said new developments are causing the need for the road improvements and the the city wants to put the burden on the developers.
"We don't want to raise taxes," he said. "We want the people moving in to pay for (the road improvements). We don't want the existing residents to have to pay."
Those opposed say it will harm future economic development.
Furthering that argument is that owners of a potential new business to the city, Dye and De Leon Restaurants, said the excise tax was one reason they chose to relocate their planned business outside Basehor.
Basehor resident Susan Guy, who signed and helped circulate the citizens' petition, has been an opponent to the excise tax since it was first proposed.
"I feel citizens should have an opportunity to vote on an ordinance that will affect development and taxes," Guy said. "I hope the voters will take time to learn more about the excise tax and its impact on our area."
Should the excise tax fail on April 2, city officials said they could choose to come up with the lost revenue through a raise in the mill levy.
The latest figure disclosed by city officials is a raise of 20 mills to make up for the lost funds with the excise tax.
Hooker said the raise in the mill levy is just one possibility and that the raise probably wouldn't happen all at once, but more likely, as the need for the road improvements arise.
"It wouldn't happen all at once, but we would have to generate the money as we go," Hooker said.
For now, city officials said they were hopeful for a strong turnout at the excise tax forums later this month.