Letter: City not fully open about excise tax
Dear Basehor Voters:
We have a special election April 2 to decide one issue: Should the city of Basehor adopt a Charter Ordinance for a transportation excise tax. The city is pushing the fact that this tax targets new development. I am very concerned about this tax. First, this charter ordinance does not establish the amount of the tax or who pays this tax. A charter ordinance exempts the city from state statutes, and opens the door to this council and future councils to set whatever fees they deem necessary.
The City Council proposes 9 cents per square foot tax (on land) for new residential and commercial property in the city limits. They stated in the flyer they mailed to Basehor residents that without the proposed excise tax the city would have to increase the mill levy by 20 mills.
There is something drastically wrong with the City's figures. Last December, before the charter ordinance was presented to he council, charts were provided showing how much revenue this "9 cents per square foot" would generate. They estimated $127,500 the first full year and that it would take 7.5 mills of property tax to collect this same amount. At the Public Forum on March 21, the figures had changed. The first year of the excise tax would only generate $45,000 and now the city says it would take 20 mills added on to your property taxes to make up this amount.
They must be using the same calculator they used for the sewer plant. More than half of the property taxes we are paying to the city are used to pay off the bond and interest for the sewer plant (and many of us are not on sewers). The sewer plant was supposed to be funded by user fees. What happens if the city sells bonds for road improvements and comes up short again?
The City says "the proposed tax will be paid by the people creating the new homes and commercial property in the city, - not current homeowners." This may be true. The developer can pass the fee onto the new homeowner by increasing the amount of the lot. The assessed valuation of your home and property is based on recent sales. Every time the value of land increases your assessment also increases and you pay more taxes.
Do we need better roads? Of course we do. Is this the way to fund them? I don't think so. The city should be doing everything possible to present our city as "business friendly". Commercial businesses are assessed at more than twice the rate of homes and retail businesses collect sales tax. Previous councils falsely promised us that city sales tax revenues would be used for road improvements. Careful budgeting, solving the sewer bond crisis and encouraging new businesses could generate enough revenue to "fix" our roads. Please vote "NO" on this charter ordinance.
P.S. Mike Hooper, Codes Administrator, has said this ordinance would never have been forced to a vote if the people signing the petition knew what they were signing. He said that more than half of the people signing the petition are over 55 years old and did not understand what they were signing. It is nice to know that our city looks at our senior citizens as senile instead of taking advantage of the wisdom of their years.