ROELAND PARK, Kan. -- A stalled development project in Mission, Kan. and an up-in-the-air departure of a big box retailer in Roeland Park have everyone scratching their heads.
Roeland Park residents say the threat of Walmart leaving the city for the Mission Gateway Project has now increased their property taxes by close to 60%, and they want to know what for.
The opening date of the Mission Gateway Project, including the new Walmart, was once again recently changed and noted on the developer's website, going from 2015 to 2016. That's important in Roeland Park because the opening of that site closes the one where Walmart currently is.
That Walmart is Roeland Park's biggest tax revenue generator. City officials say the bustling Walmart helps generate around $700,000 of sales tax revenue every year. To make up for that anticipated loss, the city increased property taxes.
But another possible delay has everyone asking: Is it really going to happen and what's being done?
"People ask us to make decisions based on one way or the other and we just don't see movement, but we see promises and at what point do you stop believing them? At what point do you prepare for a future so you don't get hit with a very extreme situation?" asked Roeland Park Mayor Joel Marquardt.
"I think they're using Walmart as an excuse," said Roeland Park accountant and former city council member, Scott Gregory.
Residents say Roeland Park has done nothing but increase taxes, including a nearly 60% property tax to make up for future losses.
"But we cannot continue to prepare on the backs of citizens, which is what we've done. We keep raising taxes," said resident and former city council member Linda Mau.
"It's all coming out of the citizens' hide. The city, its employees are not bearing any of the pain," said Gregory.
Residents say it's not okay, and it's not enough.
"Part of this job also is to sell this city. There are development and redevelopment opportunities. We can't sit back and let someone sell a community or our community," said Mau.
"Our neighbors in Mission have been in limbo with their site and we are in turn in limbo in ours, and it's no ones fault, but yeah, it's a challenging time," Mayor Marquardt said.
Now some are saying if Walmart doesn't leave, a refund is in order.
"I would like my money given back to me," said Mau.
"It's certainly possible. I mean the city can do what they like with their funds and the council has votes on that," said Mayor Marquardt.
He said Walmart officials told him this week they are still planning a spring 2015 departure from Roeland Park to the Mission Gateway Project. The developers of the Mission site haven't returned FOX 4's calls and since our story about the pushback aired on Sunday, the opening date on their website has gone back to 2015.
As for Roeland Park, the mayor says they are looking at all options.