Olathe is hoping its residents will help out with much-needed street improvements.
By JENNIFER BHARGAVA
Special to The Star
The city is holding a mail-in ballot election, asking voters to allow a 10-year 3/8-cent sales tax to fund street repairs.
Ballots will be sent out today by the Johnson County Election Office to all registered Olathe voters. They should arrive in mailboxes later this week. They must be received by the election commission no later than noon Nov. 12.
Earlier this year, City Manager Michael Wilkes explained the urgency of the situation to the city council during a special study session.
The city’s streets are declining and there isn’t enough money to solve the problem before it gets worse, he told them.
“We need to take fiscal responsibility and get on top of this issue,” said Wilkes. “The bottom line is if we don’t begin funding our street maintenance at a significantly greater level, in 10 years or less our taxpayers will be paying at least 10 to 15 times what is needed today for streets. It is our responsibility to make sure we don’t create that major burden for ourselves and future taxpayers if we can avoid it.”
He pointed out that the city currently maintains more than 1,200 lane miles, of which 148 require work. City staff estimated an additional $9.26 million is needed to adequately fund street maintenance over the next decade.
Right now, the city can only afford to address 43 percent of the need. With the sales tax, it could address all of it.
If passed, the sales tax would go into effect in April of 2014 and end in March 2024.
To learn more about the issue, residents are encouraged to visit www.olatheks.org/streetsalestax.