KC Mayor James promotes earnings tax, saying it’s vital to city functions

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February 07 2021 05:30 pm
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Mayor Sly James is worried what could happen if voters don`t support renewing the city`s earnings tax, so he was out Thursday night promoting the tax to likely voters. A key vote on the tax is set for this spring.

The only people who get a vote on this are people living in Kansas City, so the mayor says the big pitch to them is that nearly half of the money comes from people who don`t live in the city.

He was at the NAACP forum explaining the tax is one percent on people`s earnings, and raises about $230 million a year. The airport and KC Water have dedicated funding, so that earnings tax makes up about 40 percent of the rest of the general fund.

A majority of that money goes to pay police and firefighters. The mayor says an earnings tax is fair, because of the resources people who work in the city use.

“125,000 people show up who don`t live here flush the toilets, call the police, use the lights, drive on the roads, leave trash behind, and all those things, and for that they are asked to pay one percent, and so far it`s worked,” Mayor James said, adding that earnings taxes are used in 4,000 cities across the country, and one percent is on the low end.

Opponents of the tax argue that many people who pay it are essentially being taxed twice, and that it's unfair that people living outside of Kansas City don't get to vote on the issue. They also say they are concerned that the city isn't budgeting efficiently.

The vote takes place on April 5.

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