Governor says ‘no’ to new tax, local planners favor it

Last updated: June 20. 2014 3:08PM - 1061 Views
By Pat Pratt ppratt@civitasmedia.com

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Several open house meetings are set for next week as the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) seeks comments on proposed Amendment 7 projects. That amendment will appear on the August ballot and proposes a three-quarter-cent sales tax for transportation

The biggest local project is the addition of lanes to U.S. Highway 50 from Sedalia to California, Mo. making the entire Sedalia/Jefferson City corridor a four-lane highway.

“The Kansas City District will take it to Morgan County and the Central District will pick it up from there and extend it all the way to California,” said Mike McGrath, MoDOT Kansas City District Engineer. “Essentially it will be four-lanes from where it narrows down to two lanes now at the east end of Sedalia all the way to Jefferson City.”

The intersection of U.S. Highway 50 and Oak Grove Lane and the intersection of U.S. Highway 65 and state Route 765 will also see improvements under the proposal. Non-motorized improvements include the addition of sidewalks to U.S. Highway 50 from U.S. Highway 65 to Mitchell Street and connecting the Katy Trail from Third Street to Boonville Street across the Union Pacific Railroad Tracks.

According to MoDOT, the tax will provide an estimated $5.4 billion in funding for transportation over 10 years. Of that amount, 90 percent, or an estimated $480 million annually, will go toward state transportation initiatives. Ten percent, or an estimated $54 million annually, will fund city and county transportation projects.

After Gov. Jay Nixon placed the measure on the ballot, he spoke out against it. In a statement issued June 2, Nixon said the proposal would increase sales taxes by $6.1 billion over 10 years and that while a discussion on transportation is necessary, he could not, “in good conscience endorse a $6.1 billion tax hike on Missouri families and seniors when special interests and the wealthy are being showered with sweetheart deals.”

“The burden of this $6.1 billion sales tax increase would fall disproportionately on Missouri’s working families and seniors by increasing the cost of everyday necessities like diapers and over-the-counter medication, while giving the heaviest users of our roads a free pass,” Nixon stated. “If this effort is successful, Missouri will have the dubious distinction of being a state that, in a matter of months, cut taxes on lawyers and lobbyists, but hiked taxes on bar soap and baseball gloves.”

The bar soap and baseball glove tax will increase if the amendment passes but, taxes on medicine, groceries and gas will not, according to MoDOT. Another condition is that toll roads will not exist during the 10-year tax period either.

MoDOT officials said they will work with citizens, transportation partners, elected officials and community leaders to solicit feedback. Officials with the Pioneer Trails Regional Planning Commission, an organization that works with local governments to promote and implement planning activities in the areas of economic development, homeland security, solid waste management and transportation, said the tax is a good idea.

“The commission met on May 21 and endorsed the needs list,” said Randy White, Executive Director of Pioneer Trails Regional Planning Commission. “We sent it to MoDOT and did what they had to do given the pricing, that was one of the data points we didn’t know. But I have heard nothing from the commission but good news, so Pioneer Trails endorses the effort.”

There will be a public meeting from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday at Sedalia City Hall, 200 S. Osage Ave. Local residents will have the chance to share their thoughts on the proposed amendment and will be able to speak with regional planning partners and MoDOT representatives. No formal presentation will be made.

There will also be a public meeting from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce, 100 S. Holden St. The entire public meeting schedule, the draft transportation improvement list, and an online comment form are available at modot.org/movingforward.

The question will appear on the Aug. 5 ballot. For more information on the proposal and possible projects visit modot.org.

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