Topeka Council comes up with sales tax spending plan

TOPEKA (KSNT) – After not being able to reach an agreement last week, it took less than 30 minutes Tuesday night for the Topeka City Council to decide whether to ask voters to extend a countywide half-cent sales tax. The decision came at a special council meeting and once again it came down to what to spend on what.

Last Tuesday the council spent several hours see-sawing over what to put in the spending plan and what to leave out. Tuesday, it did not take a fraction of that time to come up with a split decision in a meeting that actually had very little discussion to it.

“This is a significant step tonight that was taken,” said Larry Wolgast, Mayor of the City of Topeka.

A significant step on a spending package that just did not seem to be in the cards a week ago.

“I’m glad we’ve got something before the voters, something for them to take a look at and voice their opinion,” said Nathan Schmidt, Topeka City Council Member.

The resolution outlines what citizens will vote on come the November election.

“It’s been discussed, we’ve received input from the community from public meetings, we have had 4 council meetings where it’s been discussed,” said Wolgast.

The Topeka Zoo, the Expocentre, the bikeways master plan, economic development, and street repairs. Things, council members say, are so important they want voters to weigh in.

“I’m hopeful that the voters will get to decide in November the future of the Expocentre, the future of infrastructure, and the future of economic development in Topeka and Shawnee County,” said Bob Archer, Shawnee County Commissioner.

But while the council’s approved a general outline, it is just that. There are no specifics as to which project gets what.

“I think it shows that the City Council wants to partner with Shawnee County, and I think it’s been a long time coming. And I think it’s here, where we will partner better than the past,” said Archer.

The Council still needs to decide on how much money will go into each project. Mayor Wolgast anticipates they will get the interlocal agreement voted on before the November 4 election.
This extension, if approved, would go into effect January 1st, 2017.

The Council’s spending plan now goes back to the County for its approval. They meet Thursday to vote.

 

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The Topeka City Council voted to adopt a spending plan for its share of a half-cent sales tax, and hope the plan is good enough to convince voters to extend the tax.

After failing to reach a decision last week, the council met in special session Tuesday night trying to get something before voters for the November general election. The council was under a deadline of getting something together, then getting to the Shawnee County Commission for it’s approval in time to meet an August 1st voter information deadline.

The plan approved by council includes money for upgrades to the Kansas Expocenter, the Topeka Zoo, economic development projects and infrastructure projects like roads. It does not include money for sidewalk repairs or replacement, something the council tried to do last week.

Council Richard Harmon started the meeting by apologizing for having to leave last week’s regular council meeting early before last week’s vote, saying his departure necessitated the need for Tuesday evening’s special session.

Mayor Larry Wolgast said many of the issues had been before voters before, and that it was time for the council to make a decision.

They did, voting 6-3 to approve the spending plan.

The package, which includes the spending plan as well as an inter-local agreement with the county, now goes back to the commission for it’s consideration.

If both sides agree, the measure would appear on the November 4th general election ballot.

 

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