Guest Commentary

Independence can meet two pressing needs with one vote on Proposition P

Two pressing community needs in the City of Independence — funds to operate a regional animal shelter and funds to add much-needed police officers — could be addressed by voting yes for Proposition P on Aug. 6. Voting yes will allow the city of Independence to collect a local use tax on online retail sales.

There is compelling need, a clear plan and rock-solid transparency and accountability.

Why these two issues — pets and police?

In July, Independence assumed operation of the Jackson County Regional Animal Shelter. The city quickly stepped in after learning in January that Great Plains SPCA could no longer provide services because of financial shortfalls. Our community, like others, love animals and there has been a tremendous response from city leaders and volunteers in the wake of this unexpected turn of events.

Additional city funding is needed to ensure the Regional Animal Shelter will continue to operate as a no-kill shelter for lost, abandoned and surrendered pets. Prop P would do that.

Prop P would also put more police officers on the streets in Independence. Over the past decade, Independence has struggled to secure additional revenue to hire more police officers. Independence is growing in population, and more officers are needed to provide safety to our residents and visitors.

In 2018 the City Council approved funding for a new Street Crimes Unit. The addition of just five new well-trained and well-equipped officers has had a dramatic impact on public safety. Continuing to add officers would improve response times, put more boots on the ground and allow for more direct engagement with the community. Prop P would do that.

The state of Missouri already collects a use tax like the one Prop P would give Independence the ability to collect on online purchases. Based on what state takes in, Prop P could generate $1.5 million annually by applying the 2.25% local use tax to online sales. Revenue for pets and police would grow over time as online sales continue to expand.

Approximately half of all Missouri cities already have a voter-approved local use tax, including Kansas City, Liberty, Excelsior Springs, Gladstone, Grandview and St. Joseph. Independence needs to join the list.

As a volunteer with the Independence police department and animal lover, I am urging voters to support Prop P on August 6 for these reasons.

Additional funding is needed to operate a no-kill animal shelter. More police officers are warranted.

Online purchases would be charged at the same rate as purchases made at Independence retail stores.

Funds collected would go into separate identifiable accounts — one for pets and one for police — which would be monitored by citizen oversight committees that would provide quarterly reports to the public.

We need to take care of our animals. We need more police officers to protect us. Retail sales are moving online. Other options are not sufficient to address these two pressing community needs.

In short, there is a clear need, a clear purpose and clear accountability on what is collected and how those funds legally can be used.

We need to do this. Vote yes on Proposition P on Aug. 6.

Mark McDonald is the campaign treasurer for We Support Pets and Police.