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Clay County voters reject plan to adopt a new constitution

Updated: 2013-11-06T05:09:02Z

By GLENN E. RICE

The Kansas City Star

Voters on Tuesday rejected an effort to restructure Clay County government and build a new community center in Blue Springs, but they approved measures to add classrooms and fund infrastructure improvements in the Northland.

Voters in several communities went to the polls Tuesday to consider a variety of ballot proposals.

Clay County

For the third time, voters rejected a proposal to adopt a new county constitution.

It garnered only 37 percent of the votes. It needed a simple majority to pass.

A new constitution would have given the county home rule, converted the three-member county commission into a seven-member council, turned several elected offices into appointed positions and made all county elections nonpartisan.

It also would have placed county employees under a merit raise system and given voters recall, referendum and initiative powers.

Supporters said the change was needed to make county government more professional and more efficient.

Opponents maintained the constitution was illegal and would have left the county without a functioning government during a six-month transition — something proponents denied.

Opponents said they would have challenged the measure in court if it had passed.

Clay County voters have rejected two previous measures to adopt a county charter or constitution.

Liberty

Voters approved a proposal to raise the operating levy for the Liberty Public School District.

The 36-cent levy increase will add classrooms, upgrade technology and make other improvements.

The measure, which needed a simple majority, received 58 percent of the votes.

The district operating levy will increase from $4.90 to $5.26 per $100 of assessed property valuation. That means the owner of a $200,000 house in the district who has $20,000 in personal property will pay $160.80 more per year.

Supporters said the additional money is needed to add more classroom space for new science labs, upgrade security and help better manage a growing student population.

Other slated improvements are additional space at four elementary schools, Liberty Middle School and Liberty North High School.

Two years ago, voters rejected a 43-cent levy increase in the district’s operating levy that would have raised $41 million over 20 years.

Blue Springs

Voters rejected a half-cent sales tax that would have financed improvements to the city’s parks system and the construction of a new community center.

The measure received 45 percent of the vote. It needed a simple majority to pass.

The sales tax was expected to generate about $3 million a year, which would have been used to make repairs on current parks, develop future parks and pay the debt service on the construction of a community center that would cost about $35 million.

There was no sunset on the tax.

City officials had anticipated a clear ballot and were surprised when Jackson County put a medical research tax before voters countywide.

Weston

Voters approved a measure to raise as much as $2.3 million through general obligation bonds.

Proceeds will pay for street repairs and infrastructure improvements to Washington and Spring streets.

The measure, which needed a two-thirds majority, received 81 percent of the votes.

Workers will replace water and sewer lines on Washington Street.

Improvements also will come for curbs, gutters, sidewalks, storm sewer pipes and inlets, according to city officials.

Mosby

Voters rejected a request to increase the current sales tax from 1 percent to 2 percent.

The measure received 35 no votes and 30 yes votes. It needed a simple majority.

City officials had sought the increase to pay for a variety of infrastructure improvements for roads, electrical systems and water line improvements.

Had the measure been approved, work was expected to begin in May and be completed by next October.

To reach Glenn E. Rice, call 816-234-4341 or send email to grice@kcstar.com.

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