Lee’s Summit voters OK $19.5M for public safety; Independence approves new tax

Lee’s Summit police get body cameras under a bond issue approved Aug. 6.
Lee’s Summit police get body cameras under a bond issue approved Aug. 6. File photo

Lee’s Summit voters on Tuesday roundly endorsed a $19.5 million bond offering to pay for upgrades for the fire and police departments, with 86% voting in favor.

In Independence, voters more narrowly OK’d a new tax to pay for more police and a no-kill animal shelter, with 55.6% voting yes.

Lee’s Summit will use the money to upgrade facilities and technology.

Its two oldest firehouses, built in the 1980s, will be replaced with modernized versions with separate locker rooms and sleeping quarters to accommodate an increasing number of female firefighters.

The police will buy new body cameras and in-car video systems, and amenities for female employees will also be expanded. The city’s internet network hookup at various municipal buildings will be upgraded, too.

In Independence, a new 2.25% use tax will be instituted for online purchases that are delivered in the city. Missouri reported $56 million in online sales delivered to Independence last year that the city did not tax. That works out to about $1.5 million in lost funding, city officials say.

Half of the new tax revenue will fund the city’s no-kill animal shelter. In January, Great Plains SPCA announced it would cease operating the county-owned Regional Animal Shelter, citing financial concerns. Independence took over the operations in July.

The other half will go toward additional police officers.

Many other cities around Missouri and the nation have already instituted similar taxes, including Kansas City and St. Louis.

About half of Independence’s general fund revenue comes from local sales tax, and that money is threatened as people increasingly shop online. The new tax will only apply to online purchases that are not already subject to the sales tax. The general fund pays for most municipal services, including police, fire, parks and recreation and public works.

Elsewhere in Jackson County, the city of Greenwood voted 91.8% in favor of continuing a levy for fire and ambulance protection. But in the city of Lake Lotawana, 55.3% of voters defeated a property tax levy increase to 51 cents per $100 valuation.

Overall voter turnout for Jackson County was 9.4%.

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