Lewis Diuguid

Lewis Diuguid: On President’s Day, Northeast area residents get KC earnings tax appeal

Anita Gorman, (left) a Northland civic leader, Kansas City Mayor Sly James (center) and Patrick Dujakovich, a Kansas City firefighter and president of the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO, spoke last month about the need to support the city’s earnings tax.
Anita Gorman, (left) a Northland civic leader, Kansas City Mayor Sly James (center) and Patrick Dujakovich, a Kansas City firefighter and president of the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO, spoke last month about the need to support the city’s earnings tax. jledford@kcstar.com

A second set of door hangers to drum up support for the earning tax in Kansas City were left at residences in the Northeast area on Monday despite that being Presidents’ Day.

There was no mail delivery on Monday, and City Hall and schools were closed, but it made sense to get information to people on the national holiday when more adults and their children were likely home in the older Kansas City neighborhood. Voters on April 5 will be asked to renew the 1 percent earnings tax for five years as they did five years ago.

A lot of background noise from the Missouri legislature possibly killing that vital municipal funding source had cluttered the message from City Hall. But because of Mayor Sly James’ forceful intervention for Jefferson City to butt out, that state intrusion appears to be off the table.

The latest door hangar explains why the earnings tax is important. It hauls in 40 percent of the city’s general fund revenue every year, amounting to $230 million. “Without the earnings tax we will lose the ability to pick up trash, keep our streets clean and maintained, and pay for our police, ambulance and fire protection,” the flier states.

All of those things are important to the Northeast neighborhoods. “Losing the earnings tax will also force an increase in property and sales taxes,” the flier says. That would negatively affect a lot of people in the community.

To get to the good part the flier says: “The earnings tax is paid both by people who live in the city and people who live outside the city but work here. In fact, nearly 50 percent of the earnings tax is paid by people who don’t live in Kansas City. If we fail to renew it, the burden will fall entirely on Kansas City residents to make up the lost revenue.”

People like that shared responsibility — particularly getting folks who live in the suburbs pay for the privilege of enjoying Kansas City amenities and services.

The flier explains that the e-tax is not new, and it’s not a tax increase, and then it points out why the vote is even necessary. “The only reason we have to have this vote is because of Rex Sinquefield, a St. Louis billionaire, is trying to interfere with how we run our city,” the flier says to generate Kansas City solidarity.

Sinquefield was partly responsible for a statewide measure passed in 2010, mandating that St. Louis and Kansas City residents vote to renew their cities' earnings taxes every five years. Kansas City voters in 2011 approved the five-year renewal, 78 percent to 22 percent. Kansas City has had the earnings tax for more than 50 years.

And then the flier hits people with a bit of a scare, headlined “safety risk.”

“Failing to renew the earnings tax will put our city and its residents at risk,” the flier says. “Without the revenue it generates, Kansas City will be forced to cut resources for first responders, police, fire and ambulances. At a time when we’re fighting to protect our residents from threats at home and abroad, we can’t afford to cut our first responders.”

The door hangers were paid for by Progress KC PAC, Matthew Dameron is the treasurer. People who want to learn more can to go to www.YesonQ1KC.com, facebook.com/progresskc and @progresskc on Twitter.

The advertising and social media outreach will only matter if people go to the polls on April 5 to “keep Kansas City moving forward.” Voters can expect to hear more appeals as the election draws closer.

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