by Ivan Foley
Now it’s officially drawing opposition from both political parties.
Two days after the Platte County Republican Central Committee passed a resolution to oppose the county half cent sales tax for parks proposal, so did the Platte County Democratic Central Committee.
At a meeting Thursday night, the Democrats passed a detailed resolution against the half cent park tax idea, which goes in front of voters on Tuesday, Aug. 4.
The vote by the Democrats was announced as 9-6 in favor of adopting a resolution to oppose the tax. Republicans earlier in the week, as exclusively reported in The Landmark last week, voted 11-3 to oppose the tax question.
The resolution--printed in its entirety at the end of this article--says the county commission “did not adequately explore other funding mechanisms, or a smaller sales tax, prior to placing the half cent sales tax on the ballot for renewal.”
In putting forth the resolution for a vote, Russ Purvis, chairman of the Democratic central committee, said “It’s not because we oppose parks because we don’t. But this is being proposed in a bad economy without looking at other (lower) tax options. We should oppose it on principle more than anything else.”
Committee member Fred Sanchez offered an opposing viewpoint. Sanchez first asked if the committee could, under its bylaws, take a stance. It was explained the committee’s bylaws do not prevent the committee from taking a stance on an issue. Sanchez then commented that it seems unusual that a three member Republican commission would propose a tax unless there is a real need. “Follow the money here,” he said. “Why did they propose it then?”
“Because it’s a feel-good renewal thing and they thought nobody would oppose it,” Purvis remarked.
“Tax issues are a death sentence sometimes politically,” Sanchez said. “In the past the GOP has vilified taxes. If they are true Republicans and espouse to be Republicans why would they propose this without a true need?”
Purvis responded directly to Sanchez:
“So you’re saying anytime a Republican proposes a tax we should support it based on that? You’re saying any tax proposed by a Republican is a good tax?”
Purvis also stated:
“You don’t have to be in opposition to parks to oppose this tax. Platte County already has one of the highest sales tax rates in the state. That’s not arguable.”
Committee member Pauli Kendrick of Weatherby Lake said she supports the tax proposal but would like to see a higher percentage of the tax spent on stormwater issues. She said she understands the county is looking to connect some trails.
“But I understand we don’t want to look like tax-and-spenders,” Kendrick added.
Mary Anne Baier, committee member, asked: “If the county built all this with half a cent then why do they need another half cent to maintain it?”
Committee member Betty Reavis, a former candidate for countywide office, said: “In today’s economy we don’t need (the half cent proposal).”
Purvis commented: “If you overtax your county you will destroy your economic engine and you’re not going to have any parks anyway.”
Democrat Bonnie Brown, county treasurer, is not a member of the central committee but was present offered comments in support of the half cent sales tax.
A final vote count of 9-6 in favor of the resolution was announced. Three or four votes were cast by proxy, some on each side of the issue. Purvis said he carried one proxy but did not cast it.
According to Kendrick, who was serving as secretary at the meeting, votes were cast as follows. Including proxy votes, the following members voted in favor of the resolution: Sharon Aring, Charmaine Davis, Cher Dombrowski, Mary Anne Baier, Jim Koch, Russ Purvis, Betty Reavis, Chuck Robinson, and Jennifer Wilmot.
Including proxy votes, those voting against the resolution were Mike Brazil, Ken Hunt, Pauli Kendrick, Patti Meizis, Zelda Reeber, and Fred Sanchez.
The complete text of the resolution is as follows:
Whereas, the Platte County Democratic Party Central Committee feels it is necessary to, from time to time, express its position on certain matters essential to the well being of the citizens of Platte County; and
Whereas, the Platte County Democratic Party Central Committee demands its county government be accountable and fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars; and
Whereas, the Platte County Democratic Party Central Committee generally encourages parks and recreation be made accessible to all citizens in order to develop a higher-quality and more comprehensive standard of living; and
Whereas, the current ½ cent sales tax for parks is scheduled to expire and has been placed for renewal on the August 4, 2009 ballot.
Whereas, the Platte County Commission did not adequately explore other funding mechanisms, or a smaller sales tax, prior to placing the ½ cent sales tax on the ballot for renewal.
Whereas, the Platte County Democratic Party Central Committee recommends that the current county budget be prioritized in order to maintain current county services without raising taxes.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Platte County Democratic Party Central Committee stands in opposition to the ½ cent sales tax appearing on the August 4, 2009 ballot.
Be it further resolved that Secretary of the Platte County Democratic Party Central Committee be instructed to prepare a copy of this resolution for members of the public upon request.