Like other cities across the country, Kansas City is feeling the budgetary effects of COVID-19. This year’s city budget includes significant cuts across the board that protect vital city services and the city’s credit rating, but will involve budget cuts to critical cultural institutions and hiring freezes for first responders. The impact of these cuts makes it clear that Kansas City must renew the earnings tax (“e-tax”) this year.
All this is the result of a $70 million budget shortfall in a single year. Failing to renew the e-tax on April 6 would create a budget shortfall roughly four times that size, and would make that budget squeeze effectively permanent, extending cuts over the next decade.
The e-tax funds nearly half the cost of Kansas City’s vital services: firefighters, police, EMTs, street repair, trash pickup, and more. If we fail to renew the e-tax, we would face immediate budget cuts amounting to tens of millions of dollars on top of the cuts announced last week. Even worse, these cuts would continue for the next decade, badly damaging our city’s ability to plan for the future and provide services to current residents.
In addition to larger budget cuts to departments already facing the squeeze during COVID-19, failing to renew the e-tax would force the city to consider:
- Raising property taxes
- Raising sales taxes
- Layoffs of first responders, including current firefighters, EMTs, and police officers
- Severe funding cuts for pothole repair and street maintenance
- Increased costs and reduced service for trash pickup
- Cuts to funding to fight illegal dumping
The e-tax allows Kansas City to provide city services to residents and nonresidents alike; historically, about half the revenue generated by the e-tax is paid by people who live outside Kansas City, and seniors and others on fixed incomes do not pay the e-tax. Without it, service cuts and tax increases would affect everyone in Kansas City, and put a larger burden on city residents.
It’s clear that renewing the e-tax is critical to every resident of Kansas City. That’s why renewal has been endorsed by a broad coalition of elected officials, public safety professionals, faith leaders, civic organizations, labor unions, and community advocates. Join your neighbors and vote YES on Question 1 to renew the earnings tax on or before April 6.