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Archive for Sunday, October 25, 2009

Baldwin City tax question county’s only Nov. poll

October 25, 2009

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Votes are trickling in for the only election in Douglas County this fall.

Baldwin City voters are being asked to decide two sales tax questions.

Keith Campbell, deputy of elections, said six votes had been cast as of Friday, four by absentee ballots and two by advance voters at Douglas County Courthouse.

If approved, a 0.5 percent sales tax would pay for infrastructure projects. It would replace a half-cent sales tax that voters approved in 1998 to pay for the $1.14 million municipal swimming pool. It raised about $180,000 a year, which was more than expected, and resulted in the pool being paid off early. That tax will end March 31.

The second ballot question is a 0.25 percent sales tax to be used for “quality of life” projects, which a committee has determined as biking and hiking trails and improvements to current parks, such as adding restrooms and water fountains. If passed, it is expected to raise about $87,500 annually.

Baldwin City Council approved putting the two ballot questions to voters. The city has mailed out an informational piece on the questions, and the council had a public forum on the questions Monday.

“A lot of times when cities and school districts have these elections, they don’t publicize it like Baldwin City has,” said Campbell, who declined to speculate about voter turnout as a result of the publicity or the questions.

The polls in Baldwin City will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 3 for the election. Ahead of that, the county clerk is having advance voting at the courthouse, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Advance voting will also be available from 9 a.m. to noon next Saturday at Baldwin City Public Library.

The half-cent sales tax has a long history in Baldwin City. Voters approved one in 1991 to pay for the library and another half-cent for operational costs in the city. When the library tax ended, voters approved the half-cent tax for the pool in 1998.

If both sales tax increases are approved Nov. 3, Baldwin City residents would pay a 7.55 percent tax on purchases. Current sales tax rates in area towns are Lawrence, 7.85 percent; Topeka, 7.95 percent; Gardner, 8.025 percent; Ottawa, 7.9 percent; Olathe, 7.65 percent; and Eudora, 7.3 percent

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