"Change" in Overland Park, Kansas: A 41% property tax increase, or a 46% increase

Liberal Republican City Councilman Jim Hix: “Hix said he is not sure how residents will react.”

An enormous property tax increase is on its way from the Overland Park City Council, where almost all of the members are “Republicans.”  From my recent KC Monitor column.

…The only thing that would possibly stop this tax increase from being approved would be a loud voter reaction, right now.

Council, Chamber get ‘bold’

Kansas City Star editorial tells us the “bold” choices being offered by Overland Park City Manager Bill Ebel: “One plan from Ebel would boost the city’s mill levy by 46 percent and bring in more than $10 million a year in new revenue. The other option, a 41 percent increase, would create an extra $9 million annually.”

So, those are the innovative ideas of today’s Overland Park Council: either a 41% increase, or else a 46% tax increase in spending.

Star editorial board member Yael Abouhalkah describes Ebel as “somewhat of a hero to other city administrators in the Kansas City region,” who “would love to make a similar proposal.”

Not at all surprisingly, the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the massive property tax increase proposal.

Chamber President Tracey Osbourne – apparently not appreciating that there are people who live, work, and shop outside of Overland Park because of high taxes, or that a lower regulatory environment creates a high quality of life – wrote, “The leadership of our chamber feels strongly that the increase is necessary to maintain the high quality of life and city services that continually make Overland Park one of the nation’s most desirable places to live and work.” That’s reported by the once-trusted Olathe News, now owned by The Kansas City Star.

I’ll quote one more time Tracey Osbourne, completely unfazed that businesses will flee Overland Park under these types of laws: “Osborne said in an interview that the chamber supported the higher tax plan because it would funnel money back into the city’s reserves faster and preserve the city’s AAA bond rating, which saves interest when the city borrows money.”

It’s always interesting when public officials endorse both “funneling” and “borrowing” by government, in a single interview.

The Star’s Abouhalkah writes that the chamber’s endorsement makes it “even more likely the City Council will approve the tax boost later this summer.”

Reading between the lines

Through these various articles, the media are trying to make it seem as if the city’s politicians are carefully thinking about whether there is a need for tax increases, and are highly knowledgeable about how the city is spending money. But look at some of these quotes – their best ones — that are supposed to warm voters to the upcoming tax increases.

The Johnson County Sun on 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 Star on Mayor Carl Gerlach: 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?”

The Sun on veteran Councilman Jim Hix: “Hix said he is not sure how residents will react.”


Find out more about this large Overland Park tax increase at the KC Monitor.



Connect with Benjamin Hodge at FacebookTwitterLinkedInThe 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 NRAKansans for Life, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).


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