Special Question On The Ballot
The 2020 General Election is officially underway with members of our Armed Forces already receiving ballots and some residents choosing to vote early in person at the courthouse. This year Cherokee County voters will find numerous candidates for various offices and will also discover there is a "special question" on the ballot, as well.
The question reads: "Shall the following be adopted? The Governing Body of Cherokee County, Kansas, determined that the continuation of the sales tax revenue in the amount of one-half of one percent (.5%) is necessary to finance ambulance services within the County; to finance renovations and maintenance of County buildings and facilities; and to finance any other projects within the County deemed necessary by the Governing Body; and that property tax increases should be avoided if possible. Such tax shall take effect January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2032."
This question allows voters to decide if they want to continue a half-cent sales tax (often referred to as the jail tax) to fund services and projects, which would otherwise need to be funded through property taxes. It's important to know this is not a new tax, but rather a continuation of a half-cent sales tax we have been paying for years to finance the construction cost of the county jail, which will be paid off by the end of this year.
I've had several residents talk to me about this, concerned that the passage would somehow negatively impact the Sheriff's Office. It will not, as the money generated to fund the jail went straight towards that purpose and never impacted our operations.
I'm in favor of utilizing a sales tax to fund services such as our ambulance organizations because sales tax is paid by everyone who makes a purchase in our county, including those who do not reside here. Anyone who stops for a drink or fuel while passing through on Route 66 will help fund our ambulance services, rather than just Cherokee County property owners. Families who come into the county and grab dinner while attending an event or a ballgame will contribute. And the reality is, some of them may experience a medical emergency or be involved in a traffic crash while here, allowing them to benefit from the very services they help fund.
I wanted to share my thoughts and a brief explanation because on Election Day, when we get into the voting booth, sometimes we feel rushed and I felt it was important to make an effort to provide some advance notice and awareness of the special question voters will see on their ballot.
Sheriff David Groves