Garden City will be launching a handful of big projects with Tuesday's passage of the interlocal, countywide .3-cent sales tax increase.
The tax hike was passed by more than a 13 percent margin, with 56.82 percent of voters in favor and 43.18 percent opposed.
In all, 2020 of 3,555 Finney County residents who voted were in favor of the tax hike that would begin on April 1, 2018 and sunset in 2033.
The interlocal sales tax agreement between the City of Garden City and Finney County will pay for urbanized improvements to Jennie Barker Road, ongoing improvements to Lee Richardson Zoo, construction and operation of an 11,068-square-foot indoor shooting range intended for use by local law enforcement and the public, and construction, operation and maintenance of a 15,061-square-foot fire station on the city’s east side for use by the Garden City Fire Department, Garden City Police Department and Finney County EMS.
The 15-year sales tax hike is expected to yield about $2.15 million annually to fund the balance of each project, which has been estimated at $18 million total.
“I’m very pleased that the vote of the people was supportive of what we at the county and city are trying to accomplish," said County Commissioner Bill Clifford, who has fervently supported the initiative, especially urbanization of Jennie Barker Road, which lies in his district.
Clifford went so far as to personally finance road signs throughout the county for use by private groups that stand to benefit from the zoo and gun range projects.
“I think these projects are forward-looking and will benefit our community for decades,” he said. “I’m very pleased that we can pay for them with sales tax because we’re definitely tapped out with property tax.”
With the passage of the initiative, “Now the real work begins,” Clifford said. “We don’t have much time to take a victory lap.”
Garden City Manager Matt Allen said the next steps will be to plan out a timetable for the projects slated for completion within the next five years, namely improvements to Lee Richardson Zoo and Jennie Barker Road.
Allen said the city and county will adopt a “pay-as-you-go” strategy for the first set of projects that will be determined by the rate of revenues from the sales tax.
He added that he is glad the public information campaign mounted by the city and county was successful in accurately relaying information about each project.
“That’s a lot of projects, and they were different, so that was a challenge, and that’s something that I certainly hadn’t dealt with before, and I don’t think anybody in our working group had taken on a ballot issue that was that complex. And so it really presented a challenge to get accurate information out,” Allen said.
With a .3-percent hike in sales tax, residents within Garden City limits would pay a sales tax rate of 8.95 percent, putting Garden City on par with other first-class cities in the state. Garden City’s sales tax rate will be equivalent to Manhattan and still lower than Prairie Village, Lawrence, Hutchinson, Leawood, Liberal, Pittsburg, Lenexa, Leavenworth, Shawnee and Junction City.
Garden City’s sales tax will eventually drop to 8.8 percent in 2021, when the HorseThief Reservoir sales tax of .15 percnt is slated to sunset.
Contact Mark Minton at email@example.com.