By Dennis Minich
Harrisonville voters will be asked to approve a one-half cent sales tax in August. The board of aldermen voted Monday night to place an issue on the ballot which is hoped will raise about $700,000 annually for the Emergency Medical Services Department.
While the city charges for ambulance service, the reimbursement rates from Medicare and Medicaid, along with other bad debts have left the EMS fund increasingly dependent on subsidies from the city’s general fund.
During the course of the past six years, more than $3.37 million has had to come from the general fund to meet the EMS budget. It is projected EMS will run a shortfall of $635,000 this year.
“The goal we had to find was to come up with a solution for funding the EMS service. Over the next five years, we would deplete our reserves,” Brad Ratliff, city administrator said.
“We looked at all options to cut expenses or generate increased revenue and we determined the sales tax could be utilized and that way it’s not just put on the back of the taxpayers.”
The board had to make a decision Monday night because issues for the August ballot must be turned in by May 25.
“We thought August was a good because it will come before budget discussions,” he said.
Board member Marcia Milner said getting the information out is critical to passing the ballot issue.
“It is important we get the correct information out. We can’t just go on like we have been,” she said.
Mayor Judy Bowman concurred. “It is critical and it comes down to informing the public,” she said.
In other business:
• The board voted to allow Andre Gibson to keep chickens at his home at 610 Younger Dr.
• Approved five special use permits: a Bicentennial Block Party on the square Aug. 7; a Harrisonville Community Church Block Party on the east end of Chapel Drive May 29; a June 5 Cops and Bikes Event in the parking lot at the Cass County Information Center; the Aug. 24 delinquent real estate tax sale on Pearl Street; and the second annual HHS band competition Oct. 23.
• Approved the reappointment of Vanessa Hargrave, David Atkinson and Cathy Farris to the park board and the appointment of Jennifer Love as an alternate to the board of zoning adjustment.
• Listened as Bowman presented memorial plagues to the family of Corey Turner, an HHS student who was killed walking home from school in 2016. Because of his death, the Harrisonville CARES coalition was formed and Police Chief John Hofer highlighted some of the projects the group helped initiate.
• Was informed by Ratliff the opening date for the new Aldi’s store has been delayed until June 16.