The Raymore Journal is endorsing Question P on the Aug. 2 ballot. What is Question P, and why should you vote for it?
Question P is a local use tax. Before passing judgment on the word “tax,” residents should understand what it means to local, small businesses and the quality and safety of the City of Raymore.
What is Question P?
Question P asks residents to approve of a 2.5% local use tax that is not already being collected. That last part is key as it indicates that residents will not be doubled tax.
Each time you buy a product or service at a brick-and-mortar location in Raymore, the city collects a 2.5% local sales tax. However, out-of-state business, like online merchants, do not charge a local sales tax.
For example, if you buy a bicycle from Dave’s Bike Shop in Raymore, you will pay a 2.5% local sales tax. However, if you buy the same bike on Amazon, no local use tax is collected. Essentially, online and out-of-state businesses are getting away with not paying that tax, leaving money on the table for the city.
To be clear, there will be no double tax. Nothing changes for Dave’s Bike Shop. However, you will pay the exact same rate for a local use tax for Amazon purchases as you do for the local sales tax at Dave’s Bike Shop. Residents will pay either a local sales tax or a local use tax, but never both for the same transaction. Any items that are exempt from state and local sales tax are also exempt from state and local use tax.
What will the extra tax revenue bring to Raymore? Safety.
If passed, the city can afford to pay for full-time positions in three understaffed departments: Police, Public Works and Parks and Recreation.
Why vote for Question P?
Staffing and Safety
In 2020, the city hired a firm to determine whether there are any staffing issues it needs to address. Turns out, there are a lot of significant staffing issues.
Compared with other nearby cities of comparable size, Raymore is not doing well in terms of police officers per 1,000 residents, sitting at 1.3. Belton, Gladstone, Grandview and the national average (2.5) all have more officers. Only Raytown has fewer, with 1.2 officers per 1,000 residents.
The story is the same with number of city employees per 10,000 residents, which is 4.9 employees. The national average is 8.3 employees. Again, only Raytown has a lower number at 3.4 city employees per 10,000 residents.
Looking at number of residents per public works employee, Raymore has the most with nearly 1,200 residents for every public works employee.
Raymore is also lacking maintenance workers. The city has only 15. Only Grandview has fewer with 10 maintenance workers. Belton, Gladstone and Raytown all have more.
Current staffing levels are not sustainable to maintain current service levels. This is a safety problem.
According to Raymore Communications Director Melissa Harmer, these are “the people that are the boots on the ground.”
“They’re interacting with the public,” Harmer said. “They are doing the jobs right here; the things that affect our citizens every day.”
With police reaching their overtime limit within just a few months, Raymore needs more officers. Otherwise, we are going to be stretching out our police force even thinner than we already are.
A lack of Public Works and Parks/Rec staff also present a safety issue. Essentially, if no one is around to fix potholes, faulty playground equipment, etc., then we have a problem.
The message is clear: Raymore has a staffing problem, which translates to a safety issue. There is a solution, and that solution is establishing a local use tax to fund new employees.
If the measure does not pass, those positions will not be created. Full stop. Current staff will continue to be spread thin.
Currently, residents have a very high satisfaction rate regarding public safety. Whether we continue to have that confidence is in our hands on Aug. 2.
Level the playing field for small businesses
A local use tax also benefits small, local businesses.
The local use tax will target online and out-of-state retailers. That includes Amazon and other popular online retailers. That may even apply to small online businesses. Either way, they will pay a tax that only local, brick-and-mortar businesses are paying.
The status quo is not fair for small, local businesses. However, it is advantageous for megaretailers like Amazon. While transactions at local businesses are being charged a 2.5% local sales tax, online and out-of-state businesses pay nothing to the city. Consequently, the latter can maintain lower prices.
According to the city, people are shopping online more than before the pandemic and less at brick-and-mortar businesses. Consequently, the city is not collecting those taxes, but the city is generating less revenue with the existing local sales tax.
A vote for the local use tax is a vote for small, local businesses.
For more information, visit Raymore.com/QuestionP. Questions can be directed to Raymore’s Communications Director Melissa Harmer at email@example.com or 816-892-3002.
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