The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
On November 4, Warrensburg voters will have the opportunity to add a 3/8 of 1% sales tax to the existing 7.225% tax, bringing the total sales tax rate for items purchased inside the city limits to 7.6%. Since there will be nothing else of significance on the ballot, it stands a good chance of passing. Supporters will turn out while most people stay home; less than 10% of the electorate will approve taxing the other 90%.
This tax is earmarked to support Warrensburg’s Parks Dept, which has been struggling to fill the money pit located at the corner of Gay & Mitchell. When voters approved the ˝ cent sales tax to build the community center as well as the east fire station, they turned down a property tax to operate it. That tax has been generating a surplus over debt service needs, but it will sunset in a few years. The city has been making up the rest of the deficit out of regular operating budgets, already stressed by the fiscal profligacy of a departed city administration. The actual breakout of the $825,000 new tax gives an extra $375,000 per year to the parks and returns $450,000 to city operating budgets.
I would like to see how the Parks Department intends to raise money within its programs. Will it try to participate in the lucrative world of baseball tournaments once all the fields at West Park are lighted? If so, will the Chamber be asked to cooperate with tourism tax money to promote events that create overnight stays? Will the sorry choice of concessions at the ballparks be upgraded? Will user fees, especially where park facilities compete with private business, provide a base of operation? Will sound business management of the parks replace the politically correct attitude that up until a few years ago didn’t keep score at ball games? Will new land donations and upgrades be asked to include a maintenance endowment with the donation?
I guess my questions don’t matter since I can’t vote on the tax anyway, since I live outside the city limits. I wonder if any study has been done to find out what percent of the sales tax is paid by those of us who live outside the city? The fact that non-residents are subject to paying the tax makes it attractive to supporters of additional revenue and undoubtedly will be stressed by tax supporters.
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