Roger Sims, Journal Staff
Pleasanton meeting Monday to present street sales tax issue
PLEASANTON – The Pleasanton City Council will move its regular meeting from City Hall to the Pleasanton Community Center at Ninth and Main streets at 6 p.m. on Monday.
The reason for the move is to conduct a town hall-style meeting to field questions from city residents about a proposed one-cent sales tax question city officials hope to have on the November ballot. Under the proposal the sales tax would only be used for street repair and resurfacing.
City Administrator Teresa Whitaker in March told council members that the only way the city would be able to do a comprehensive street repair program would be to raise enough money from a different source than property taxes. Currently the city handles street maintenance with patching and limited paving.
Weary of residents coming to council meetings to complain about deteriorated streets – and then ruts in yards where motorists have to veer off the pavement to avoid potholes – the council voted to begin work on the sales tax plan.
One of the questions is how fast the upgrade of the streets can be made, particularly with how many of them are in poor condition.
Whitaker proposed that more streets could be repaired quickly if the city passed a $7.5 million general obligation bond and use the proceeds of the sales tax to pay down principal and interest on the bond. The cost to repay that bond would be about $343,000 annually.
She compared that to financing the $3.8 million bond on the water project that was taken out in 2015.
She said the estimate to fully reclaim the streets across all of Pleasanton could cost as much as $8.4 million
If the project is funded solely by sales tax, the work would progress more slowly as the city builds up the sales tax revenue. In either case, Whitaker has laid out a plan for which streets are given priority.
Whitaker proposed implementing a sales tax for street maintenance for several reasons. She said that the sales tax would allow people other than residents to help with the cost of maintaining streets.
Based on 2022 records, a one-cent sales tax would generate about $300,000 annually, she said. The city already has a one-cent sales tax, but it is used to supplement the general fund.
If the city would raise money by adding on to the property tax, Whitaker estimated it could add well over 30 mills to Pleasanton property taxes, which are already some of the highest in the county.
She said that while the one-cent sales tax would be felt by city residents, it would also go into effect just as the Kansas Legislature is looking at eliminating sales tax on groceries and that would lessen the blow.
Whitaker also told the council that by passing a sales tax specifically for street maintenance, that would help solve the longer term problem of providing for the constant upkeep of the streets.
By being specifically for street maintenance, the sales tax fund could go for not only materials such as asphalt but also for equipment needed to maintain the streets.
So far there hasn’t been much organized blow back on the proposal, at least not in person. However, Monday’s meeting will provide a venue for residents who are against the tax.
As for Whitaker, who will be leaving her post at the end of June, she said she will work hard to promote the sales tax proposal that she hopes to see on the ballot on Nov. 7.
At the city council meeting on March 20, Councilman Jake Mattingley pushed for the council to move ahead with the plan.
"Every year we put it off, hundreds of thousands of dollars more it's going to cost," he said.
If the council decided to go with a bond issue, the first phase of the street project would be fairly ambitious.
Tentatively, Phase I would include
Laurel Street from 13th Street to 925 Road
Sixth Street from east of Cedar to Tucker
Sycamore Street from First Street to 14th Street
Maple Street from Seventh Street to 15th Street
Walnut Street from 10th Street to 14th Street
Magnolia Street from Fifth Street to 10th Street
Seventh Street from Cedar Street to Linn Street, and
Fifth Street from Kansas Street to Magnolia Street
The proposal for Phase II would include”
Ash from 17th Street to 1050 Road
Eighth Street from Cedar to Linn
Broad Street from Cedar to Linn
Linn Street from Fourth to 12th
Locust Street from 12th to 13th
Kansas Street from Miami to 10th
Locust Street fro Park to 18th
18th Street from Laurel to Locust
13th Street from Ash to Orange
15th Street from Laurel to Locust, and
14th Street from Naples Street to railroad tracks
In a release by the city, Pleasanton has the most paved roads of any city in the county. It has 23 miles of streets compared to La Cygne’s 16 miles. Mound City has 12 miles of paved streets, and while Linn Valley has 49 miles of roads, many of those are gravel roads.
The city has until July 1 to get information to the Linn County Clerk's Office for it to be on the November ballot.