On November 7, 2017, voters will be asked to authorize a 0.30 percent (3/10ths of a cent) sales tax to fund improvements to Jennie Barker Road, the construction of a third fire station, the construction of an indoor gun range, and improvements at Lee Richardson Zoo. The following are common questions regarding the ballot issue.
Q. What are the improvements?
A. Improvements to Jennie Barker Road would include transitioning Jennie Barker Road between Schulman Avenue and K-56 from a two-lane rural road to a three-lane urban road with a left turn lane and sidewalks. The sales tax would also provide funding for signalization at the K156 intersection.
The third fire station would be a new facility constructed on the east side of Garden City to meet increasing demand for emergency services.
The indoor gun range would replace the current facility used by the Garden City Police Department, which is deteriorating and presenting safety risks to the officers and public who use it.
Improvements at Lee Richardson Zoo include a new Animal Health Facility, a new primate exhibit, and a new flamingo exhibit. All three projects have been recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for the well-being of the zoo’s animals and staff alike.
For more details, please check out the project information page.
Q. Who will be voting?
A. All registered voters in Finney County are eligible and encouraged to vote.
Q. Is this a new sales tax?
Q. What is the current tax rate?
A. The current citywide sales tax rate in Garden City is 8.65%. In the Stone Development CID, which includes Stone Creek Plaza, Old Chicago, Heritage Inn and Suites, Parrot Cove, Samy’s Spirits and Steakhouse, Clarion Inn and Sleep Inn, the sales tax rate is 9.65%. The sales tax rate in Holcomb is 8.15%. The sales tax rate in unincorporated areas of Finney County is 7.65%.
Q. Is there a higher tax rate at Schulman Crossing or in the Downtown District?
A. No. The sales tax rate in these areas is 8.65%
Q. If this is approved, what will the new tax rate be?
A. If the sales tax is approved, the new citywide sales tax rate in Garden City will be 8.95%. In the Stone Development CID, the sales tax rate would be 9.95%. The sales tax rate in Holcomb would be 8.45%. The sales tax rate in unincorporated areas of Finney County would be 7.95%
Q. If this is approved, who will pay the tax?
A. Sales tax is paid by people who make purchases in Finney County, regardless of where they live.
Q. Will this tax have an expiration date or will it be permanent?
A. If approved, the tax would expire after 15 years. It is not a permanent tax.
Q. How do sales tax rates in Finney County compare to those of others in Kansas?
A. Here is a list of the sales tax rates in various Kansas cities.
Junction City - 9.75
Leavenworth - 9.50
Lenexa - 9.35
Pittsburg - 9.25
Liberal - 9.25
Hutchinson - 9.10
Lawrence - 9.05
Manhattan – 8.95
Salina – 8.75
Garden City – 8.65
Dodge City – 8.65
Emporia – 8.50
Newton – 8.50
Holcomb – 8.15
Q. How much money would be generated annually by a new 0.30 cent sales tax?
A. Current estimates are that a 0.30 cent countywide sales tax would generate $2,150,000 annually.
Q. How will the sales tax revenue be used?
A. Based on the state formula for countywide sales tax, Holcomb would receive approximately $85,000 annually. The remainder of the sales tax revenue would be used to pay for the projects listed, according to an interlocal agreement between the City of Garden City and Finney County.
Q. If approved, when would construction of these facilities start?
A. The Jennie Barker Road construction and signalization projects, the zoo improvement projects, and the gun range will all be constructed during the first five years of the sales tax using pay-as-you-go financing. The fire station will be constructed to open in 2024. The final ten years of the sales tax will cover debt service on a ten-year City general obligation bond and the annual operating expenses of the third fire station.
Q. What are the options if the sales tax is not authorized by voters?
A. City and County Commissions would need to decide whether the projects would be done. If so, they would be general fund obligations of the two organizations.
Q. Why doesn’t the zoo just charge admission?
A. The zoo has no infrastructure or staff to facilitate charging pedestrians at this time. Developing that would take time and money and permanently raise the zoo personnel expense budget. It could also reduce access to some of the lower-income members of our community.
Q. What is the ballot language?
A. The ballot question will read as follows:
Shall the following be adopted?
Shall Finney County, Kansas levy a retailers’ sales tax in the amount of .30%, to take effect on April 1, 2018, to be levied on retail sales consummated within the County for a period of 15 years, with revenues of such tax used by the County and the City of Garden City, Kansas as agreed in an Interlocal Cooperation Agreement between the City and County, which shall provide that revenues from levy of the tax allocated to the County and City shall be used to finance: (i) construction and improvement of Jennie Barker Road in the County to urban design standards, including signalization of the intersection of Jennie Barker Road and K-156 highway; (ii) construction, operation, maintenance and equipping of a third fire station to be located on the City’s east side and related City and County public safety facilities; (iii) construction and operation of an indoor shooting range; (iv) ongoing improvements at Lee Richardson Zoo; and (v) to pay obligations of the City or County issued to finance such purposes, if any, all pursuant to K.S.A. 12-187 et seq., as amended?
Q. Will the sales tax dollars be spent on anything other than these outlined projects?
A. The bond language allows for expenses related to the operation of all of the facilities. For instance, the last ten years of the project will pay for the debt service (annual bond payment) of the third fire station, the equipment inside of it and the staff required to operate it (we anticipate that will be 15 employees based on the current required staffing levels). There could be some additional operating expenses related to the zoo projects and the gun range, but those aren’t expected to be anywhere near the annual operating cost of the third fire station. The interlocal agreement approved by the City and County Commissions creates a sales tax use oversight board that will review the use of the funds and report back to the Commissions/general public.
Q. Will there be public access to the shooting range?