Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach served as a key Brownback for Governor campaign member. No comment from Gov. Brownback, from the state Republican Party, or from the Johnson County Republican party, on the 46% property tax increase in the second largest city in Kansas.
The following article appears in the Kansas City Monitor.
There They Go Again: Overland Park Jams 50% Tax Through
August 1 public hearing scheduled, for tax already voted on.
"Good for them" -- Kansas City Star
On July 7, I wrote here that the Overland Park City Council would likely increase property taxes by almost 50%. Two “options” were being considered: either a 41% tax hike, or a 46% tax hike. Monday night, July 11, the 46% tax increase passed. There is only one more vote that needs to take place, before this tax becomes permanent.
This is the city council that in 2010 unanimously endorsed Johnson County Commission candidate Larry Winn III, who spent $70,000 only to lose to the conservative Jason Osterhaus, who spent $10,000.
This property tax affects all Kansas City voters, because what is happening in Overland Park is being carefully watched right now by all local city, school, and county officials throughout the Greater KansasCity area. If taxes rise in Overland Park, they will rise in many other places.
There is a public hearing scheduled on August 1, where the Overland Park City Council will pretend to listen to you, the voter. Unless you call, write, Email, and visit these elected officials in person, Overland Park's property taxes are going to rise by 50%.
This has been planned for months, a 50% property tax increase for Overland Park businesses and homeowners. A few weeks ago, the City Council sent out their friends in the media to promote the "idea" of a tax increase, to discuss the dire need for more "revenue" (taxes), and to attempt to convince voters that elected officials were dutifully thinking about all the options.
It passed this week, and without public discussion by councilmembers. In The Kansas City Star's reporting after the vote, you should note that the level/amount/percent of increase in taxes (a 46% increase) is never mentioned:
"The City Council tentatively agreed to the tax increase Monday night and set a public hearing on the $213.6 million budget for Aug. 1. The budget is scheduled for final approval Aug. 15.
"The City Council can still reduce the size of the tax increase between now and Aug. 15. But the council moved the budget forward on a unanimous vote Monday night without much discussion about the size of the tax increase."
I'll compliment The Star's liberal editorial board member Yael Abouhalkah for at least being straightforward about it:
"Overland Park’s elected officials are now on record as supporting a 46 percent increase in the city property tax. Good for them.
"That could bring in more than $10 million a year in new revenue -- and almost $100 annually from the owner of a $200,000 house.
"In a tentative vote Monday, the City Council rejected a slightly smaller proposed property tax increase of 41 percent that would have created an extra $9 million a year.... "
On Monday, I wrote to you about this enormous property tax increase in Overland Park. It was repeatedly described in the local media as merely a "plan" that was being "considered" by the Overland Park City Council, who were pretending to think hard about all the options. You may remember some of the quotes.
Councilman Jim Hix admitted to The Johnson County Sun that he had not even talked to voters about the 50% tax increase -- The Sun reported: “Hix said he is not sure how residents will react.”
The Sun also wrote about the "agonized" Councilman John Skubal:
"'When we don’t maintain streets, that starts to show very, very fast,' Skubal said.
"He noted that failure to repair a deteriorating street ultimately requires more expensive street replacement. At the same time, he said he agonizes over what probably will need to be done.
"'It’s real hard to look at a tax increase when your neighbors aren’t working,' he said."
The Kansas City Star carried water last month for Mayor Carl Gerlach, who claimed his mind wasn't made up yet: "He said Thursday the council was still looking for other ways to cut costs, then added, 'Or is this the time for a tax increase?'"
Time for serious action
Their minds were made up months ago. Today, they don't care that most Overland Park voters are fiscally conservative. They don't think you're paying attention, and they don't think you're smart enough to remember their votes later on. Today, they don't care. It's up to you whether they think the same
thing tomorrow. Unless you call, write, email, and visit these elected officials in person, this 50% property tax increase is going to pass, propelling all local governments throughout KansasCity to consider the same thing.
Mayor Carl Gerlach
Connect with Benjamin Hodge at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, The Kansas Progress, and LibertyLinked. Hodge is President of the State and Local Reform Group of Kansas. He served as one of seven at-large trustees at Johnson County Community College from 2005-’09, a member of the Kansas House from 2007-’08, a delegate to the Kansas Republican Party from 2009-’10, and was founder of the Overland Park Republican Party in 2011. His public policy record is recognized by Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters,the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, the NRA, Kansans for Life, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).