Raytown voters reject three tax increases; Blue Springs school bond passes

Blue Springs South High School.
Blue Springs South High School. Google Earth

Raytown leaders are facing hard choices after voters rejected City Hall’s plea to impose or increase three city taxes meant to shore up municipal finances.

With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Raytown voters by a 31-to-69 percent margin turned down a measure to raise the property tax by $1 for every $100 of assessed valuation on property in Raytown.

Also, voters said no by a 45-to-55 percent margin to another measure that would increase the motor fuel tax by 2 cents for every gallon of gas purchased in Raytown. The motor fuel tax proceeds were meant to pay for road construction, maintenance and repair.

Those two taxes were put on the ballot by the Raytown Board of Aldermen on March 20 after the city in recent years had been using its reserve fund — essentially a savings account for the city — to pay for normal operations.

City leaders said at the time that the reserve fund was never meant to support regular operations. Now that the two questions were defeated, the city has warned that it will tighten its belt on expenses and reduce critical services.

In 2017, Raytown ran a deficit of $350,000 for government operations, according to its independent auditor. The year before, that deficit was $215,529.

A third tax to impose a use tax on online and catalog purchases of out-of-state retailers. The 2.5 percent tax was expected to generate $350,000 for Raytown. The city sought the use tax as a way to help Raytown’s brick-and-mortar retailers compete with online retailers.

Raytown’s financial struggles came into focus last year when aldermen were considering cutting $3 million from its police budget, which would have eliminated 17 positions.

Blue Springs School District

Voters in the Blue Springs School District on Tuesday passed a $99 million bond, as well as a levy fund transfer, aimed at improving district facilities and hiring teachers.

The bond issue was not accompanied by a tax increase.

The bond issue passed 79 percent to 21 percent, while the levy transfer was approved 64-36, according to unofficial results with 86 percent of precincts reporting.

The proceeds from the bond issue would go to decreasing class sizes, hiring back teachers who were let go during earlier budget cuts and providing personal computers to high school students.

Blue Springs High School is also expected to build a new library and media center with the bond proceeds, while Blue Springs South High School will get a new gym and theater, among other facility upgrades.