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Coalition urges voters to reject new sales tax at June election.

For Immediate Release

May 28, 2020

The Coalition for Kansas City Economic Development Reform issues official statement of opposition in an effort to inform voters on why they should vote no.

Kansas City, Missouri— May 28, 2020 The Coalition for Kansas City Economic Development Reform urges voters to vote no in the upcoming June election against the proposed sales tax increase for the Fire and Safety budget.

“I support our fire and safety department and we feel saddened that they are in need of funds, but voters should know that the same city council that has approved this ballot initiative gave Waddell and Reed a pass on paying into the very same fund that they need this tax for,” said Angie Lile, a community leader in the Waldo area and member of the Coalition.

Disproportionate Impact on the Financially Challenged

Many people in the Kansas City metro area are facing hardships due to the Covid-19 pandemic and many more will follow as it draws on an unknown amount of time. At the time of the vote, city council members did not know what life was going to look like in Kansas City today when they agreed to put this on the ballot. Hardships include medical emergencies, unemployment and even less options when it comes to purchasing needed goods and services. Raising prices for everyone would have a disproportionate impact on people who are financially and/or medically challenged and for some, would be the final nail in the proverbial coffin.

Mismanaged Funds

One of the many things that our taxes pay for is safety, both for police and fire protection services. The current sales tax for fire safety is not set to expire until 2036 so many voters are understandably confused as to why we need to raise the tax even more. The Coalition maintains that City keeps diluting existing taxes by doling out taxpayer-subsidies for unpopular luxury housing and speculative class-A office towers. Many in the Coalition believe that our runaway incentive process is rife with conflicts of interest and should be brought to heel before we take on big new taxes like this one.

“Add to this that the city recently announced that they needed to audit our use of community improvement districts (which also add to the sales tax base) because these funds were not being properly managed and now we are talking about exceeding our saturation point on sales taxes in those areas if this passes,” Lile added.

Sarah Owsley with Empower Missouri and a Coalition member had this to say: "Residents of Kansas City should understand where our tax dollars go already. Too often they are diverted from the things we need, like fire / safety and instead invested in things someone wants, like empty office space. There is no doubt that the need is real in our Fire Department, however adding a sales tax during a global pandemic to make up for a budget shortfall that happens as a result of development incentives gone wild is not the answer.”

While you won’t see a postcard mailer from the Coalition asking you to “vote no”, the Coalition is a volunteer organization and has no funds for that, they do want to make sure that you turn out to vote if at all possible, against this unfair and inequitable tax.

The Coalition adamantly supports our fire and safety organizations by advocating for them at city hall, but do not approve of a tax that will disproportionately affect the growing population of disadvantaged Kansas Citians.

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