Police Board Favors Sales Tax for Buildings, Vehicles and Equipment
Kansas City Star via YellowBrix
August 04, 2010
KANSAS CITY – Kansas City’s police board on Tuesday supported the police chief’s recommendations to seek a 15-year renewal of the public safety sales tax for new facilities, vehicles and equipment.
The resolution ignored Mayor Mark Funkhouser’s recommendation to use sales tax proceeds to hire 100 police officers. Funkhouser, who sits on the five-member board, voted against the resolution.
The resolution is not binding but lets the City Council know the board’s wishes. The board wants the council to put the issue on the November ballot. The current tax expires in June.
Police plan to use the tax extension to build new police stations in the East Patrol and North Patrol areas as well as a crime lab. Money also would go to police equipment, existing buildings, the radio system and vehicle and helicopter fleet.
If extended 15 years, the tax would generate an estimated $298 million — $258 million of it for police projects. The rest would remain with the city to pay for tax increment financing, buy ambulances and fund emergency operations.
Board President Pat McInerney said the disagreement with the mayor over officers wasn’t about whether to hire more. The issue was how to pay for them: through the city’s general fund or through a sales tax that eventually expires.
He said he worried that salaries could gobble up the sales tax money, leaving little for capital improvements.
Funkhouser said his plan would gradually put salaries back into the general fund in five years, when he expected the city’s economic situation to improve. But McInerney questioned whether the city would be able to absorb the cost.
Police Chief Jim Corwin said his proposal to use sales tax money to maintain buildings and buy new equipment would free money to hire 40 officers.
Board members also discussed how best to structure the financing. They supported using bonds so they can build facilities before the tax money is collected. The current sales tax used a “pay-as-you-go” structure, which saved money on interest but prolonged construction and added inflation costs, police said.
The final decision on ballot language and the funding mechanism falls to City Council members. They plan to discuss the issue today.