Press release from the Board of Sumner County Commissioners
WELLINGTON, Kan. – The one half cent sales tax approved for a period of three years, by the voters on November 2, 2010, will sunset on March 31, 2014. The funds generated by this sales tax are being used to help finance county provided health care services which faced serious budget short falls due to economic conditions in 2010. The net effect of the action by the Board of County Commissioners has created necessary funding for the County without using dollars generated from property valuations. The Board of County Commissioners is placing this matter before the voters at the April 2nd election to avoid expenses of a future special election, as well as provide financial data for budget considerations later this year. At the April 2nd election, the voters will have the opportunity to decide whether these critical services are maintained by a sales tax or the property tax. Funds generated by the sales tax can only be used for health care in the county as required by statue.
The Sumner County Health Department, Sumner Mental Health Center and Futures Unlimited depend on county and state funding. However, due to current budget shortfalls at the state level, that source of funds continues to be cut. The Sumner County Health Department offers a wide variety of services including child immunization, flu immunizations, medical testing and screening, home health and in-home care services, administers the WIC program and other services. Sumner Mental Health Center provides individual and child psychotherapy, marriage and family counseling, domestic violence treatment, drug and alcohol treatment, and other emotional/mental therapy and support as well as being charged with carrying out many court-ordered evaluations. Futures Unlimited cares for mentally and physically challenged adults and children. In addition, Emergency Medical Services in the County are provided by city and hospital based ambulances that contract with Sumner County to serve rural citizens. Sumner County provides a subsidy which helps ensure emergency services to the rural areas and at the same time, helps lower the cost of EMS to the city tax payer, as well.
"With more shopping locally, the amount of sales tax collected has generated the needed funds to support these services. We need to give credit to the consumer." stated Commission Chairman Steve Warner.
"A sales tax is the fairest tax because it applies to every consumer; both locally and those traveling through Sumner County. The amount of revenue generated at the Kansas Star Casino has been helpful, as well", Commissioner Jim Newell added.
A portion of the sales tax comes from out-of-county individuals who make purchases in Sumner County; therefore non-residents are actually contributing to the funding of these services.
If approved, the sales tax will continue past the current sunset date of March 31, 2014, extending the date to March 31, 2018.
The sales tax question will be on the April 2nd ballot. The ballot question will be:
"Shall the following be adopted?
Shall Sumner County, Kansas, be authorized to extend, for a period of four years, beginning on April 1, 2014, the one-half percent (.005) retailer sales tax originally approved by the voters of this county on November 2, 2010. This retailer sales tax is for the purpose of financing the provision of health care services, to include but not limited to the following: emergency medical services, ambulance service, local health departments, and mental health care; all pursuant to the authority of K.S.A. 12-187 et. seq., as amended.