Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Commissioner Chuck Stites as Commissioner Mike Kane. We regret the error.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas Mayor and CEO Tyrone Garner proposed an overhaul of the tax system in a Wyandotte County Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday evening.
The proposals would set property tax mill rates at a revenue neutral rate, create separate classifications for residential and commercial use for the BPU PILOT program, ask voters to approve sales and use tax measures and identify budget cuts to pay for the first two items.
Many commissioners clashed with Garner over the proposals and said they felt left out of the process.
“Mayor, this is a waste of our time. It is a waste of our time,” Commissioner Andrew Davis said. “Mayor if you are going to be successful, I need you to come to the table willing to compromise, willing to answer your phone, willing to answer emails and willing to work with us. If not, this will not happen.”
Commissioner Mike Kane echoed those sentiments.
“It’s kinda like arguing with my wife. I disagree with you 100%. I can’t do this. I ain’t kidding you. I wouldn’t vote for it, No way in hell. I’m embarrassed to be a commissioner right now.”
For his part, Garner said that he campaigned on lowering property tax rates and that his goal was to keep people in their homes.
“I’m here because I’ve sat in people’s living rooms and watched them cry. I’ve watched people on fixed incomes say that they cannot take it. I’ve watched people lose their houses and cry. I’ve watched people say that the tax burden here is too heavy,” Garner said.
The general purpose tax would not have a sunset date and would include up to a 2% city sales and use tax. The mayor’s plan would have these proposals going on the August primary ballot.
Commissioner Chuck Stites said he supported tax relief, but was worried about the impact that broad reductions could have on government employees and services.
“Now, I’m all for reducing our taxes, don’t get me wrong,” Stites said. “But I also don’t want to handcuff us where we cannot get critical infrastructure and other things that need to be done in our community.”
The meeting was originally set to take place in closed session at an off-site retreat, so the public would have had to attend the retreat in order to have had access to the information, but instead the meeting location shifted to the municipal building late Thursday afternoon and the public was allowed to attend via livestream. There was no public comment.
No action was taken on the proposal and the budget is set to be discussed again at the next Board of Commissioners meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 31 at City Hall.
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