Archive for Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sales tax to support research triangle on November ballot

June 12, 2008

Johnson County voters will now have a chance to vote on two sales tax measures this year.

Earlier this year, the Johnson County Commission agreed to place an extension of the current county quarter-cent sales tax on the Aug. 5 primary ballot. The county's share of revenue from the tax would be used to build and operate public safety facilities.

The Johnson County Commissioner last Thursday voted 6-1 to place the sales-tax question on the ballot.

If approved by voters, the proposal would establish the Johnson County Education Research Triangle Authority.

The authority would use the sales tax increase to fund projects and programs at the KU Edwards Campus, KU Medical Center's northeast Johnson County location, and Kansas State University's campus in Olathe.

The tax increase is projected to raise $15 million the first year and would grow slightly each year. The proceeds will be divided equally between the three locations.

David Adkins, KU vice chancellor of external affairs, said the measure would enhance higher education opportunities and science and technological development in Johnson County.

"It's a continuation of Johnson County's rich legacy of recognizing the quality of life is guaranteed only through investments in educational opportunities," Adkins said.

No formal opposition has formed, but Adkins said any tax increase proposal will face a tough time at the ballot especially in times of a worsening economy and rising gasoline prices.

Johnson County Commissioner John Toplikar was the lone vote against the measure. In the past, Toplikar has criticized the tax increase as unnecessary to spur economic development.

Numerous state and Johnson County leaders, however, support the proposal.

If approved, the research authority board would have seven members. KU would appoint two members, while the governor, Kansas Board of Regents, Johnson County Commission, Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees and Kansas State University would each pick one board member.

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