Between a Rock and a Tax Hike
Overland Park residents have two choices — a 41% property tax hike or a 46% tax hike.
Overland Park, the second largest city in Kansas and the largest in Johnson County, has about 115,000 thousand registered voters. 55,000 (48%) of those are registered as Republicans, and 33,000 voters (28%) are Independents. Only 27,000 voters (24%) are registered as Democrats. But looking at the votes made by the area’s elected officials, one might think the region was a heavily Democratic one. Only in recent years have fiscal conservatives made gains in state legislative seats within Overland Park, and there is much forward movement yet to take place, particularly in the Senate.
The City Council is jam-packed with tax-and-spenders, who have sent their liberal friends in the local media to attempt to sell what should only be interpreted as a certain and large tax increase. The only thing that would possibly stop this tax increase from being approved would be a loud voter reaction, right now.
Council, Chamber get ‘bold’
A Kansas City Star editorial tells us the “bold” choices being offered by Overland Park City Manager Bill Ebel: “One plan from Ebel would boost the city’s mill levy by 46 percent and bring in more than $10 million a year in new revenue. The other option, a 41 percent increase, would create an extra $9 million annually.”
So, those are the innovative ideas of today’s Overland Park Council: either a 41% increase, or else a 46% tax increase in spending.
Not at all surprisingly, the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the massive property tax increase proposal.
Chamber President Tracey Osbourne – apparently not appreciating that there are people who live, work, and shop outside of Overland Park because of high taxes, or that a lower regulatory environment creates a high quality of life – wrote, “The leadership of our chamber feels strongly that the increase is necessary to maintain the high quality of life and city services that continually make Overland Park one of the nation’s most desirable places to live and work.” That’s reported by the once-trusted Olathe News, now owned by The Kansas City Star.
I’ll quote one more time Tracey Osbourne, completely unfazed that businesses will flee Overland Park under these types of laws: “Osborne said in an interview that the chamber supported the higher tax plan because it would funnel money back into the city’s reserves faster and preserve the city’s AAA bond rating, which saves interest when the city borrows money.”
It’s always interesting when public officials endorse both “funneling” and “borrowing” by government, in a single interview.
The Star’s Abouhalkah writes that the chamber’s endorsement makes it “even more likely the City Council will approve the tax boost later this summer.”
Reading between the lines
Through these various articles, the media are trying to make it seem as if the city’s politicians are carefully thinking about whether there is a need for tax increases, and are highly knowledgeable about how the city is spending money. But look at some of these quotes – their best ones — that are supposed to warm voters to the upcoming tax increases. Emphasis added.
The Johnson County Sun on Councilman John Skubal: “When we don’t maintain streets, that starts to show very, very fast,” Skubal said.
He noted that failure to repair a deteriorating street ultimately requires more expensive street replacement. At the same time, he said he agonizes over what probably will need to be done.
“It’s real hard to look at a tax increase when your neighbors aren’t working,” he said.
The Star on Mayor Carl Gerlach: He said Thursday the council was still looking for other ways to cut costs, then added, “Or is this the time for a tax increase?”
The Sun on veteran Councilman Jim Hix: “Hix said he is not sure how residents will react.”
WDAF Fox 4 does viewers a disservice with its report, “Overland Park Seeks Rare Property Tax Increase.”
This is a common theme presented by both media and government officials, that Overland Park has “low tax rates.” This merely refers back to the mill levy, which is only a percent of a property’s value. And a property’s taxable value is not determined by the free market, but by another level of government (the county appraiser’s office). Do not forget that tax increases happen frequently, with or without an increase in the mill levy. Similarly, remember that Overland Park has a large commercial property base that brings in revenue.
Put it all together and it spells Taxed Enough Already
The bottom line: A burdensome tax increase is coming, and soon, and your action is needed. Your only chance to prevent this 40-plus percent property tax increase is to call all of the 13 elected city officials.
Tell them that you know that there’s more wasteful spending that they can cut from the budget. Tell them they need to cut this wasteful spending, instead of raising taxes.