Kansas City’s new sales tax won’t just be a shot in the arm for parks and streets. It also is likely to provide new money to demolish dangerous buildings.
City officials say the new half-cent sales tax, which voters approved in August, will be accompanied by a new consumer “use tax” on out-of-state purchases that should generate about $1 million this fiscal year, which ends April 30.
They are proposing to spend that money addressing the big backlog of dangerous buildings that need to be torn down.
“This is a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity,” City Manager Troy Schulte said Friday.
With nearly 1,000 buildings on the current demolition list, Schulte acknowledges that the demolition of dangerous buildings has been woefully underfunded for years.
The vast majority of those buildings are not in immediate danger of falling down. But they are vacant and deteriorating eyesores that can hinder neighborhood progress and become magnets for crime.
The new sales tax, which takes effect in January, will generate millions of dollars annually for parks and free up other money for street repairs. But a little-known added element is that any new sales tax in Kansas City is accompanied by a use tax, paid primarily by businesses on large purchases from out-of-state vendors that did not collect a sales tax.
From the new half-cent sales tax, Kansas City expects to collect $1 million in new use tax revenue between January and April 30.
The City Council has introduced an ordinance to spend that $1 million on the demolition of dangerous buildings, which would double this fiscal year’s appropriation for that purpose. The council is expected to debate the measure the week of Sept. 24.
The new money is intended to provide for about 150 additional demolitions. Schulte said the plan is to do those teardowns in the urban core, where they can do the most good. Targeted areas include the West Side, the Troost corridor between 23rd and 51st streets, and Troost to Prospect from 39th Street to 51st Street.
“This is just the first step,” Schulte said.
Going forward, the city hopes to sustain an adequately funded demolition program for the next three to five years to substantially whittle away the backlog of dangerous buildings.