Yael T. Abouhalkah

Blue Springs mayor won’t campaign for $800 million medical tax

Updated: 2013-09-24T23:20:08Z

By Yael T. Abouhalkah

The Kansas City Star

Blue Springs Mayor Carson Ross is not going to campaign for the $800 million half-cent sales tax increase for medical research this fall.

That’s not encouraging news for the pro-tax side, which has started rolling out its $1 million-plus ad campaign that aims to tug at people’s heartstrings.

But Ross has a good reason for his stance.

It turns out Blue Springs has its its own half-cent sales tax on the Nov. 5 ballot. This one would improve the city’s parks department and its services to the city’s 50,000 residents.

In an interview, Ross said the best use of his time is to try to persuade his citizens to vote for the measure, which would raise the general city sales tax rate to 8.475 percent.

The mayor said the city needs more revenue to make the kinds of improvements that residents in the mostly bedroom community expect city government to provide.

Ross made it clear he’s not going to campaign against the countywide medical research tax, either. He added that the people of Jackson County “are intelligent enough” to make that decision.

But he didn’t quite stop there, emphasizing the point that they’re also smart enough to realize Jackson County is the only one of the six major area counties being asked to support the half-cent tax increase for medical research.

That’s a good point, one I’m sure other leading public officials are perfectly aware of as well.

In fact, as Ross said in the interview, sales taxes generally are used for key public improvements for communities. They aren’t used for speculative scientific research.

One other point that might hurt the medical sales tax and the parks tax among the people of Blue Springs: Voters might be leery about embracing both taxes, a move that would boost the city sales tax to 8.975 percent. That would be the highest of any major city in the metropolitan area.

Indeed, on Nov. 5, it will be interesting to see if Blue Springs voters lean toward approving the local parks tax, the countywide medical research tax, both or neither.

To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/YaelTAbouhalkah.

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