Voters in Kansas and Missouri will have many big decisions Tuesday

08/05/2012 10:36 PM

05/16/2014 7:17 PM

Missouri and Kansas voters on Tuesday will decide on a variety of issues and candidates.

Kansas City voters will settle two ballot measures affecting parks, streets and sewers.

Tuesday is also primary day in Missouri and Kansas.

In Missouri, voters will select a Republican to challenge U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. They will choose candidates in the 4th, 5th and 6th congressional district races. They will decide on a constitutional amendment on prayer in public places. And they will pick nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and secretary of state.

State Senate and House seats are also up for grabs, as well as commission seats in Cass, Clay and Platte counties. There is also a sheriff’s race in Jackson County. Sugar Creek and Lake Winnebago voters will decide on ballot issues.

In Kansas, voters will select party nominees in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd congressional districts and decide numerous races for the Kansas Legislature and the Kansas Board of Education. County commission races also are on the ballot in Johnson County.

In Kansas City, Question 1 seeks a half-cent sales tax increase for parks and community centers in exchange for the elimination of a vehicle fee and several property taxes that now fund park operations. Dedicating the sales tax to parks would free up other money for a new street maintenance fund.

The sales tax would raise about $30 million for parks and community centers, but because other sources of revenue are being eliminated or diverted to streets, it would be only a $3 million overall increase in funding for parks. The additional money, park officials say, could be used for extended community center hours, additional youth programming and improved park landscaping and maintenance.

With other money freed up by the park sales tax, funding for street maintenance would grow from about $8 million this year to about $20 million annually.

Critics say this is not the time for a sales tax increase, especially one without an expiration date.

Question 2 seeks authorization for $500 million in new sewer bonds, primarily for the first phase of a $2.5 billion, federally mandated sewer overhaul. The bonds would be paid back with sewer rate increases of 15 percent for the next two years and 13 percent each year after through 2020.

Water officials warn that if Question 2 is defeated, sewer rates could double within two years because the city would have to raise the money up front to meet the court-ordered timetable, rather than borrow the money and pay it back over time.

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