Roeland Park could feel property tax pinch

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ROELAND PARK, Kan. -- Roeland Park residents could soon feel the "property tax pinch" by as much as a 42 percent increase. The city is set to lose around $700,000 in sales tax revenue when Walmart moves out in 2015.

"There really are three ways to look at how offsetting what is the largest sales tax producer in your city. One way is looking at property taxes, one way is looking at sales tax and the third way is looking at reducing services," said City Administrator Aaron Otto.

The city council's first draft of the 2014 budget proposes that residents pick up the tab for the loss.

For a resident with a $140,000 home, that means an extra $174.00 a year in property taxes.

"This first draft budget is looking at maintaining the same level of city services that we have had in the past an instead financing it through a property tax change," Otto said.

Residents were on hand to voice their opinions at a Tuesday town hall meeting.

"What they are asking the citizens to do is a little unfair. And we are very concerned because its going to lower the price of our homes, because if the taxes are too high, people aren't going to buy in this area," said Bob Soptic, a Roeland Park homeowner for the past 37 years.

"I don't think its going to happen but we have to do something either cutting services or something with the revenue from Walmart and other things that are going on. I'm looking for an increase yes, but not that much," said Debbi Kaufman.

Otto says residents still have a chance to voice their opinions as the final budget is not due until mid-August.

"I think there's an incredible challenge that the city's been put in. Im not aware of another city that's faced a double digit drop in its revenues because of a sales tax loss of one producer like this in terms of revenue producer. But at the same time, it takes patience, a chance to learn whats in the budget, what services do you value, what ones are you willing to give up permanently? What ones are you willing to give up temporarily? And what are you willing to pay?" Otto said.

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