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Tue August 20, 2013
Legislators Question Jackson County Sales Tax Backers
A first public hearing before the Jackson County Legislature on a proposed sales tax for medical research drew no outright opposition.
Legislators do have a hefty array of questions about costs and benefits.
If sent to and approved by Jackson County voters, the half cent sales tax is estimated to generate about $40 million a year for what has been termed "Translational Medical Research."
Recipients would include Children's Mercy Hospital, St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City and University of Missouri-Kansas City medical and health programs.
Legislator Crystal Williams said she intends to vote next week to order the issue on the November ballot. At the same time, she wants to know if positives outweigh negatives— "now I recognize you've talked about how this investment may eventually cycle back to low income members of the community, but there are sort of buzz words I keep hearing. You keep talking about what it's going to do for the region. But we're asking for Jackson county people to take it upon themselves to pass this tax."
Tax and medical research program promoter, former Chamber of Commerce President Pete Levy told legislators taxing sales is more acceptable than property, "but about half the sales tax is paid by non-residents of Jackson County." Levy added, "I know this is a funny number, but if you figured it per resident is something less than $4 a month."
Legislator Bob Spence wants more asssurances about fiscal oversight of funds and James Tindall said he's disturbed no specifics guarantee benefits to the Black community.
Expect amendments before the legislature votes to put this on the ballot.