Government & Politics

May 13, 2014

Michael Rhoades elected to Roeland Park council; Fairway passes sales tax increase

Roeland Park will vote soon to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s protected classes. Another candidate had been endorsed by Kansas Equality PAC.

Roeland Park chose a new council member Tuesday, and Fairway overwhelmingly approved a half-cent sales tax increase to pay for improvements to the city’s pool, parks and public works facility.

The Fairway mail ballot election passed with 73 percent of the vote, according to unofficial but final results. The final tally was 828 votes for the sales tax and 306 against.

In Roeland Park, Michael Rhoades was elected to the Ward 2 seat on the eight-member City Council with 55 percent of the 289 votes cast. Shea Geist received 40 percent. Roger A. Cooper and Russell Parks each received 2 percent.

Ward 2 Councilman Robert Myers left in March for health reasons.

Rhoades will vote on a proposal to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s protected classes. Public comment about the proposed ordinance, which is similar to one in Lawrence, has been split at town hall and council meetings.

Kansas Equality PAC, the political action arm of the LGBT advocacy group Equality Kansas, had publicly endorsed Geist, who announced her candidacy before the measure became an issue. Geist, 46, said she would vote in favor of the proposed ordinance because she believes in equal rights for all citizens.

Rhoades, 39, a real estate agent, did not respond to questions from The Star about the proposed ordinance. A flier promoting Rhoades’ campaign read, “The only special interest I will represent is you.”

The Fairway election asked voters to increase the city’s retail sales tax from 1.5 percent to 2 percent for 20 years. The tax is expected to raise about $253,000 a year to cover $3.95 million in bonds that the city will issue.

With state and county taxes, Fairway’s total sales tax will increase from 8.875 to 9.375 percent.

That money will be split between upgrades at the city’s public works facility, the pool and city parks. The city last raised the sales tax in 2009 to cover city services and the capital outlay fund.

The pool, adjacent to the Neale Peterson Park at 62nd Street and Mission Road, has not been remodeled since it was built in the 1950s.

The city will use $1.7 million to $1.8 million to rebuild the bathhouse, add lighting, improve the pumphouse, increase shaded areas, and add a multipurpose area for training and large parties.

The city also will use the bonds for improvements at other parks, including resurfacing the tennis courts and upgrading playground equipment. That brings the parks and recreation total to $2.3 million.

Like the pool, the public works facility at 5505 Buena Vista Ave. has not been updated since the 1950s. That facility will receive new buildings as well as improvements to the existing ones.

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