Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Tax: Governing Body Would Still Need to Approve Interlocal Agreement

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Tax: Governing Body Would Still Need to Approve Interlocal Agreement

Article excerpt

A divided Topeka City Council voted Tuesday evening to express support for scheduling a Nov. 4 public vote on whether to extend a countywide, half-cent sales tax.

The matter now goes back before the Shawnee County Commission. Commission Chairman Bob Archer said that body would quickly consider scheduling the countywide ballot question election.

The council voted 6-3 to approve a resolution listing 18 projects that revenue from the tax would finance, including infrastructure work, bikeways, economic development and improvements at the Topeka Zoo and Kansas Expocentre.

Council members Karen Hiller, T.J. Brown, Denise Everhart, Michelle De La Isla, Elaine Schwartz and Nathan Schmidt voted in favor of the resolution. Schwartz said she believes in economic development and thinks this community needs to improve its infrastructure.

Council members Sylvia Ortiz, Chad Manspeaker and Richard Harmon dissented.

Ortiz said she thought funding for economic development should be considered separately from the other purposes funded by the tax.

Harmon questioned why the matter needs to go to a vote now, considering the tax doesn't expire until the end of 2016.

Harmon added that he thought council members became so focused in "squeezing" projects onto the list that they ended up with a ballot question that would not pass.

"Personally, I think this is going to fail," he said.

The resolution expresses support for scheduling a Nov. 4 vote on whether to extend the countywide, half-cent sales tax for 15 years after it expires Dec. 31, 2016. The current tax is used to finance economic development efforts and specific infrastructure projects.

The county commission last month approved a resolution and interlocal agreement that would arrange the election and specify where the revenue would go.

The proposals then went before the council. That body in a 4-4 vote last week defeated a revised version of the county-approved resolution put forth by city manager Jim Colson, with five votes needed for approval. …

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