Overland Park will soon be asking residents to make a continued investment in the city’s future.
By JENNIFER BHARGAVA
Special to The Star
At its committee of the whole meeting last week, the city council discussed holding a mail-in ballot election in October to renew the street improvement sales tax, which has been in place for 15 years. The council agreed to conduct a public hearing June 17 and then vote on the tax.
The 10-year one-eighth sales tax funds residential and thoroughfare street improvements. The current one-eighth sales tax is set to expire on March 31.
Overland Park voters originally passed the street improvement sales tax in 1998 and renewed it in 2003 and 2008.
In a presentation about the sales tax to the council, public works director Doug Brown emphasized how much it has helped the city.
Since its implementation, approximately $70 million has been spent on maintaining the streets of Overland Park, he said.
From 1998 to 2010, 52 miles of ditched residential streets were reconstructed with new pavement, storm drainage, sidewalks and street lights. In 2011, the Neighborhood Street Reconstruction Program was initiated to rebuild streets that were beyond their useful lifetime.
Since 1999, Overland Park has improved 26 miles of thoroughfare, from 87th to 159th Streets.
Funding from the sales tax also has allowed the city to replace traffic signals, improve street lighting, and replace deteriorating curbs and sidewalks.
Currently, about 10 percent of the city’s residential streets have exceeded their useful life and are in need of reconstruction, Brown said. Approximately 20 percent are nearing the end of their useful life and don’t have much time left to go.
If the sales tax does not pass, Brown said streets in the city would drastically suffer, which could result in an economic downturn because businesses would be turned off from coming to Overland Park. Plus, the quality of life in the city would be compromised.
Communications Director Sean Reilly told the council that if it decides to go forth with the election, staff would make sure the public was well-informed on the details about the sales tax through the city’s newsletter, website and social media pages.
After the presentation, the council unanimously voted to direct staff to schedule a public hearing about the election for the June 17 council meeting, and for staff to finalize details for the council to vote on the election at the same meeting.