PITTSBURG — Early voting begins Friday for a special election that could help improve city streets.
The election is for the approval of a quarter-cent city sales tax, which would be used for overlay projects, as well as sidewalk repair. City Manager Daron Hall said the sales tax would help make up for lost funding for streets through the Kansas Department of Transportation.
“We’ve lost a lot of public funding from KDOT set aside for streets,” he said. “Streets and sidewalks are really how people first judge a city, well-maintained streets help cut wear and tear to vehicles, so having the funds to keep our streets and sidewalks in good shape is a win-win for everyone.”
Early voting for the election will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Meadowbrook Mall. Election day is Tuesday, July 11 and four polling places will be open in Pittsburg from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. including Church of Christ, Countryside Christian Church, Pittsburg Public Utilities Annex and St. John’s Lutheran Church.
If the quarter-cent sales tax increase is approved, residents will still see an overall decrease in city sales tax. The current rate is 9.25 percent — with 6.5 percent going to the state, 1 percent going to Crawford County and 1.75 percent going to the city. However, the city will see a half-percent decrease in September, as it pays off bond debt from the construction of Pittsburg Fire Station No. 1 and the Beard-Shanks Law Enforcement Center.
“The half-cent sales tax approved by voters to cover costs for the law enforcement center and fire station is sunsetting,” Hall said. “We’re paying that debt off a year early.”
The removal of the half-cent public safety debt sales tax will decrease city sales tax to 8.75 percent, putting it at 9 percent if the streets sales tax is approved next week.
Hall said the quarter-cent sales tax generates the same amount of money as an 8.3 mill increase to property taxes. One mill is equal to $1 per every $1,000 of assessed value. He also said using sales tax takes part of the burden off of property owners.
“Sales tax is collected not only from citizens living here, but people using the roads from outside of Pittsburg,” he said. “It spreads the cost for road repair to those driving through town.”
If approved, funds generated by the quarter-cent sales tax will be used mainly for street resurfacing, but $50,000 will be set aside as a matching fund for sidewalk repair. Currently, sidewalk repair is the duty of the property owner, and this fund will allow the city to share in the cost.
More details — including planned streets for repair — can be found at www.pittks.org by opening the 2018 Steet Sales Tax Election link. For more information on early voting and polling places, contact the Crawford County Clerk’s Office at 620-724-6115.
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.