October 30, 2021
By Ryan Myers
For many Raytown residents, 2017 was not a great year.
Many people probably remember news headlines concerning budget cuts across all city departments, with a majority of the cuts resulting in a one-third reduction of the Police Department’s funding. Four years later, I am the bearer of bad news: Raytown’s annual revenue continues to fall.
Many social and economic factors are contributors to this reduction in revenue, including residents tossing out their home phone and cable providers, the rise of e-commerce, and inflation. One of Raytown’s largest revenue generators is the franchise fee, which is based on the number of subscribers to utility, cable, and telecommunications providers. As people continue to nix their home phone or opt for a Netflix-only lifestyle, Raytown’s traditional form of revenue generation dies.
Over the last decade, the world has seen an explosion in out-of-state e-commerce sales, which currently cannot be taxed in Raytown. As it currently stands, if you buy a “widget” from a physical store in Raytown, you pay a 2.5% sales tax to the city. If you buy the same “widget” from an Amazon retailer in California, Raytown does not capture that 2.5% sales tax, which shifts demand away from local retailers and gives online retailers an unfair advantage.
Raytown is one of the last major cities in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area not to have passed a use tax. This could change on Election Day this coming Tuesday. The people of Raytown will be asked to pass a use tax, which I support and advocate for. Research has estimated that the implementation of a Raytown Use Tax would generate over a quarter-million dollars annually to our community of only 10 square miles and that revenue is anticipated to only increase in the future. This booster shot of revenue will drastically help improve our roads, sewers, and public safety.
The stagnant trend in Raytown’s revenue, and the continued decrease in purchasing power due to inflation, has brought Raytown to the point where services have been cut at City Hall, including police officers and public works employees. Should the use tax not pass, continued revenue losses may result in further city services and personnel cuts in order to pass a balanced budget.
This commonsense ballot initiative is endorsed by the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO, the Greater Kansas City Building & Trades Council, eight of the 10 current Raytown aldermen, the Raytown Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, and the Raytown Main Street Association.
Long story short: If Raytown citizens want to keep – at minimum – current city services at their current state, the Use Tax needs to be approved. Please vote YES on Tuesday November 2, 2021, for a better Raytown.
Ryan Myers is a Ward 3 Alderman for the City of Raytown, Missouri, and holds a B.S. in Economics from Kansas State University.