Voters in the city of Leavenworth could be asked to approve two sales tax proposals at the same time next year.
That's because Leavenworth County commissioners are looking at placing the renewal of a countywide 1-cent sales tax on the same ballot as a proposal for a new 1-cent sales tax for the city.
The new city sales tax is being proposed for the purpose of reducing reducing Leavenworth's property tax rate. City commissioners have not voted to place the proposal on a ballot, but they've talked about having a special election in April.
County commissioners have expressed concern about how the timing of the city's proposal will impact efforts to renew the countywide 1-cent sales tax that is set to expire at the end of 2016.
The issue came up again Monday morning during a meeting of the Leavenworth County Commission.
"I just don't think the timing is right," County Commission Chairman Bob Holland said.
Both sales tax issues would have to be approved by voters.
The renewal of the countywide sales tax issue would be put before all voters in the county. Revenue from this tax is split between the county government and cities in the county.
The proposed new sales for the city of Leavenworth would have to be approved by only voters in the city.
County Administrator Pat Hurley expressed concern how voters in Leavenworth will react if they are asked to approve the city's sales tax proposal in 2014 and then the renewal of the countywide sales tax in 2015. Hurley said voters in the city may view both ballot questions as tax increases.
"Are they going to vote two consecutive years for what appears to be a 1-cent sales tax increase?" he asked Monday.
Hurley said there's a risk voters in the city could say "no" to the second sales tax question.
"That is a high risk," he said.
And the county administrator has expressed concern that the countywide sales tax renewal may not pass in the county if it's not supported by voters in the city of Leavenworth.
Holland proposed placing the renewal of the countywide sales tax on the same ballot as the city's sales tax proposal.
He said officials will need to do a lot of advertising and promote the countywide sales tax as a renewal and not a new tax.
Hurley said the strategic value of placing both sales tax questions on the same ballot is Leavenworth city officials would have to promote passage of both. Otherwise, he said, the city of Leavenworth would stand to lose about $2.5 million from its share of the countywide sales tax.
Page 2 of 2 - The county administrator said the defeat of the countywide sales tax would be "pretty catastrophic" for every governmental entity that benefits from it.
County Commissioner Clyde Graeber recalled the last the time the countywide sales tax was renewed about 10 years ago.
"It was not an easy sale," he said.
No formal vote was taken on having the countywide sales tax issue placed on the same ballot as the city's proposal. But Hurley said there seemed to be a consensus in favor of the idea.
County commissioners are scheduled to have a joint meeting with the Leavenworth City Commission Oct. 1.