Roeland Park, other cities must be more efficient

12/17/2013 5:58 PM

12/17/2013 5:58 PM

Top Roeland Park officials need to react proactively to the recent loss of a sales tax election.

Mayor Joel Marquardt and others should look for ways to trim the cost of local government, trying to keep taxpayer expenses in line with revenues.

City officials must be on the lookout for how the city can be more efficient, especially by sharing costs of public services with other cities or with Johnson County government. That’s already happened with some trash service in the city.

Roeland Park is in this situation because voters last week narrowly rejected a .35-cent sales tax increase. Before that, voters in 2012 killed a hefty three-quarter cent tax request.

Between elections, city officials did boost the property tax rate in Roeland Park.

All of these efforts are being undertaken to replace hundreds of thousands in sales tax receipts that the city expects to lose when Wal-Mart leaves its Roeland Park store and heads for a taxpayer-subsidized location in Mission.

Hiking taxes should not be the only way to balance the budget in Roeland Park. City officials should be challenging leaders of other small cities in northeast Johnson County to expand the ways they work together to most effectively use public funds.

At some point, that could lead to reviews of how many police chiefs, police buildings and officers — to take just a few examples — are needed to provide strong public safety in that part of the county. Could a combined force cover the area and provide resident-pleasing services at a lower burden on taxpayers?

The trick now is to make it a higher priority to find ways to share services, pare city spending and work in the best interests of residents.

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