Parkville officials are asking voters to approve a half-cent sales tax to pay for the city’s parks, instead of continuing to rely on funding from Platte County.
Proposition P would generate $500,000 a year for the next ten years.
“In 2016, the city adopted the parks master plan after going through an extensive public engagement process and the plan came up with a list of public improvements to the park system. The plan greatly exceeded the current resources of the city,” said city administrator Joe Parente.
The master plan calls for connecting large parks to neighborhood parks with more trails, completing the riverfront trail and expanding the trail from Highway 45 to downtown Parkville. It would also add a baseball/softball complex and improvements to English Landing and Platte Landing Park, including a possible boat ramp, soccer fields, and walking trails. City officials say that without a sales tax increase that plan would take 24 to 38 years to complete.
This is in part because Parkville’s regional park system is currently funded by a combination of the city’s own general fund and grant money from Platte County’s sales tax. But the Platte County sales tax expires in 2020, and if the tax is renewed, the county may decrease the portion set aside for parks and recreation. The remaining amount would also only be used for existing improvements, reducing or eliminating money for new capital improvements.
Parkville has carried out an extensive public education campaign through neighborhood sessions, flyers and social media on Proposition P. According to Parente they have been mostly well received.
“So far we haven’t had much opposition to it. We field a lot of questions and a lot of them are informational type questions,” he said.
Jason Maki, a member of the Citizens for a Better Parkville group, feels differently. “I would encourage people to understand what’s going on with the current tax situation in Parkville. I would not encourage people to vote for [Proposition P],” he said, pointing to the city’s recent controversial development plans. “I think improving the parks in Parkville is a good thing… I think the tax situation in Parkville needs to improve before we start imposing taxes.”
A county-wide sales tax to fund the Platte County jail expansion is also on the ballot for April 2. Parkville will be holding a mayoral election that day as well.