Lee’s Summit, October 29, 2010 – The next proposition on the November 2nd Ballot in Kansas City will include the following:
Topic Areas: State & Local Government / Tax & Revenue – State
Summary: Shall Missouri law be amended to: – repeal the authority of certain cities to use earnings taxes to fund their budgets; – require voters in cities that currently have an earnings tax to approve continuation of such tax at the next general municipal election and at an election held every 5 years thereafter; – require any current earnings tax that is not approved by the voters to be phased out over a period of 10 years; and – prohibit any city from adding a new earnings tax to fund their budget?
Fair Ballot Language: A “yes” vote will amend Missouri law to repeal the authority of certain cities to use earnings taxes to fund their budgets. The amendment further requires voters in cities that currently have an earnings tax, St. Louis and Kansas City, to approve continuation of such tax at the next general municipal election and at an election held every five years or to phase out the tax over a period of ten years.
A “no” vote will not change the current Missouri law regarding earnings taxes. If passed, this measure will impact taxes by removing the ability of cities to fund their budgets through earnings taxes. The only exception is that voters in cities that currently have an earnings tax may vote to continue such taxes. [S] (7762)
This for me is a tough issue because I don’t live in Kansas City and I tend to trust that the Lee’s Summit City Council would never put in an income tax.  Yet the question is a valid one for voters all over the State of Missouri.
Recently, the City of Mission Kansas enacted a “driveway tax” that will cost home owners $72 a year, small businesses $3,558 a year, and large businesses like Target $64,750 a year.  The new tax was considered to be “a new innovative revenue stream” for the city that other cities should consider.  It is innovative in the sense that not many had thought of it before, but then (exaggerating to make a point) when are they going to tax oxygen?  It would be innovative, and every one of us uses it, and it could be considered a natural resource like the airwaves that carry radio frequencies.  Currently the government sells (taxes) the access to a given bandwidth, so taxing oxygen while far fetched is not that far from taxing radio frequencies.
In preparing for this piece I was talking to my son this last weekend.  I asked him how much he made on his first job.  He thought a moment and said laughing; $25.00 a week.  So I asked him, were you able to live on that money?  He said yes, but he had to live with mom and dad to make it.  The first job during college he was making $400.00 a week and he too was able to live on that:  Just not as well as he is today, but much better than the old $25.00 a week allowed him.  He could spend more money, make different decisions and enjoy life more (he did not live with mom and dad any longer).
He is now married and both he and his wife are employed, work hard, save money and do everything they can to remain on their budget; which at times is harder than he would like it to be.
The point was that as he made more money, he adjusted his lifestyle to the point where going back to the old wage would be an arduous experience.  He would have to surrender some of the gains he’s made in his personal lifestyle.  Yet, we both agreed, that if a major event took place he could find a way to survive on the old $400.00 a week.  I did not push the issue about whether or not he could make it on $25.00 a week for obvious and self serving reasons.
Cities are the same way as we are individually.  The more we make (in a cities case the larger the revenue) the more we can and do spend: even if we are fiscally responsible.  The more we make the more we want to do with the money we have.  Charitable contributions go up the more we make as well as car expenses, housing expenses, etc.
In Kansas City the 1% earnings tax generates a good deal of revenue for the city.  It is a steady revenue stream, and while some may argue, the facts are that Kansas City paid a price for their decision to impose the tax on the community.  Businesses that may have stayed in KC moved out to Overland Park, and other surrounding communities.  And, since I worked for one of the companies that set up shop in Raytown, I know for a fact that a major factor in their decision to pick the location was the avoidance of the 1% revenue tax.
The more revenue streams we have the more we want to do with the money.  The cities throughout the state have to make decisions about what they should and should not spend money on and manage their financial resources accordingly.
Proposition A does not eliminate the potential for future revenue taxes or income taxes being adopted by cities.  It does, however, eliminate the “imposition” of such taxes without putting the question to the voters.  In the end, that is the only reasonable thing to do: Ask for Money from the people that make it.  If they vote for it, then the tax comes into play, if not then the citizens made the choice.  In the case of Kansas City the voters never had a choice.  Prop A ensures that voters have the choice.
If you want the choice, then vote YES for proposition A.
If you want the cities to have the right to impose taxes as they see fit, then vote NO for proposition A.
In the end, the choice is the sum total of our votes combined, don’t let others decide for you.  Cast a ballot on November 2nd.
Respectfully Submitted,
The Lee’s Summit Conservative