What’s next for the county wide half-cent sales tax?

The mayor of Topeka is grappling with a tough decision, whether to call a special meeting of the City Council to decide how to spend tax revenue. The City Council failed to reach an agreement on the countywide half-cent sales tax.

There is a lot the City Council and County Commission cannot agree on in this spending plan, but the city is making it clear, the sidewalks have to be part of the solution.

“You can’t walk on there. there’s people who have tripped. my kids trip on them all the time,” said Judy Martinez, resident.

Judy Martinez has lived in East Topeka for most of her life. She says there has always been a problem with the sidewalks.

“We prefer to walk on the street which is dangerous, but I mean, it’s better than walking on that,” said Martinez.

Tuesday night, Council members could not agree on how to spend the $240 million from the countywide half-cent sales tax. What they did agree on was finding $7.5 million to fix the sidewalks.

“We could never come to a consensus on how much to fund each individual project, and so with that, talks I guess broke down and we decided to move on,” said Council Member Nathan Schmidt.

The tax is supposed to provide funding for several projects across the city and county. Shawnee County Commissioners, say they do not really care what the city spends its share on, they just want to see some kind of plan.

“people want to have a say in uh economic development the future of the Expocentre and infrastructure needs that we have yeah people want to have a say on this,” said Shawnee County Commissioner Bob Archer.

No city decision means a plan to extend that half-cent sales tax will not get on the November ballot which puts the county’s money at risk as well.

“We’re just trying to put what we think the voters want on the ballot,” said Schmidt.
“I want to have a sales tax question on the ballot where most people are going to vote, and that’s going to be of November of this year,” said Archer.

Because time is running out, we may learn as early as Wednesday whether the special City Council meeting will happen. The deadline for placing a ballot question on the November ballot is three weeks from Friday.

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