Leavenworth city commissioners have officially set the date for a special election for a proposed 1-cent sales tax increase.
Commissioners approved an ordinance Tuesday to schedule the election that will use mail-in ballots. Ballots will have to be returned to the Leavenworth County Clerk by Feb. 4.
The ballots will include the question: "Shall the city of Leavenworth, Kansas, impose an additional citywide sales tax for general purposes at the rate of one percent (1%) for the sole purpose reducing the property tax?"
The ballots will be mailed to voters at least 20 days before the Feb. 4 election deadline.
If approved, the sales tax would go into effect July 1 in the city of Leavenworth.
The ordinance was approved 4-0. Commissioner Larry Dedeke was absent.
City commissioners have proposed the sales tax increase to reduce Leavenworth's mill rate for property taxes. The city's mill rate is is 51.841 mills. City Manager Scott Miller has said passage of the sales tax increase would allow the city government to reduce the mill levy to about 32 or 33 mills.
County commissioners as well as some officials in other cities in the county have expressed concern about the timing of the ballot question in Leavenworth. They're worried the city's sales tax proposal could hurt the chances of voters renewing a countywide 1-cent sales tax that is set to expire at the end of 2016.
County Administrator Pat Hurley has suggested the renewal of the countywide sales tax could appear to voters in the city of Leavenworth as another 1-cent sales tax increase.
Leavenworth city commissioners had a joint meeting last week with the County Commission.
Leavenworth Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Preisinger said Tuesday that some of the "scares proffered" last week are unfounded.
"I think the voters of this city realize what we're trying to do," he said.
And Preisinger believes voters, if educated on the issue, will understand the benefits of the countywide sales tax.
Preisinger noted that it's been reported officials for the city of Lansing also have expressed concern about Leavenworth's sales tax proposal. But Preisinger said he feels this is a little disingenuous because other cities in the county have much lower mill rates than Leavenworth.
City Commissioner Lisa Weakley said the City Commission also will support the renewal of the countywide sales tax.
"That is just as important to us," she said.
Bob Holland, who is the chairman of the Leavenworth County Commission, was in the audience when city commissioners voted on the ordinance but made no comments during the meeting.