The good news has rolled in over the span of less than a week in Wyandotte County.
▪ The county will have $12 million in extra sales tax money to use for better public services and property tax relief, finally keeping long-ago promises.
▪ Officials broke ground for a huge complex that will include more youth soccer fields, also pledged years in the past.
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▪ Amazon will create more than 1,000 jobs in a new fulfillment center.
Unified Government Mayor Mark Holland was in a good mood as he acknowledged in an interview Tuesday that it was time to make good on promises to residents.
“We were willing to be patient,” he said, while waiting for partner Sporting Club and others to bring forward the best possible soccer complex plan. “I think it was worth waiting for.”
Even more importantly, Holland is justifiably proud that the county has put together a prudent proposal to spend $12 million a year in extra sales tax revenue.
That money is being freed up because the Unified Government is paying off early bonds that were issued to develop the Village West area. Previous mayors and county officials promised more than a decade ago that these extra funds eventually would be used to boost urban parts of the county.
County Administrator Doug Bach’s new budget outlines reasonable priorities for those revenues.
The property tax levy would go down by just over 1 percent this year with an added reduction of more than 2 percent next year. Holland wants to be a bit more aggressive, with a total reduction of more than 4 percent, but that would cut into spending on other issues.
The mayor does agree the city needs to use much of that $12 million on basic services mentioned by residents and businesses. The county’s plan is to reduce blight by demolishing dangerous structures, repairing streets and sidewalks, allocating more money for police and spending more on park upgrades.
Holland, a Democrat, has shared some key moments of progress in the last few years with Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, including Amazon’s announcement.
“He needs jobs in the state,” Holland said. “I need jobs in my city. Let’s work together.” Holland said Brownback’s office had been “very aggressive” in supporting economic development.
Wyandotte County still is fighting problems caused by blight and crime, especially in older neighborhoods. The additional $12 million will address some of those ills. The Amazon facility will attract residents to buy houses and rent apartments.
The last week has brought a renewed sense of optimism to residents and public officials in Kansas City, Kan. That’s what happens when promises are kept.