In a close vote amidst low turnout, Kansas City voters approved a 35-year sales tax increase to benefit the city’s Fire Department. The sales tax, effectiveJan. 1, 2021, doubles the existing Kansas City Fire Department sales tax from a quarter cent to a half cent.

“Thank you, Kansas City, for continuing your support of KCFD,” said Fire Chief Donna Maize.  “The monies generated annually will help us maintain the professional service that we have provided to KC residents for more than 150 years.” KCFD will use the funds to replace ambulances, upgrade medical equipment and make needed renovations on existing fire facilities.

Before the election, The Coalition for Kansas City Economic Development Reform released a statement expressing concern that the sales tax increase would disproportionately affect disadvantaged people in Kansas City. The coalition, is an alliance of community organizations working to make sure government incentive programs help improve distressed communities. 

Despite their opposition to the tax, Coalition members, which include the NAACP, the American Federation of Teachers and MORE2, conveyed support the fire and safety departments. Because of coronavirus, the group did not have the time and support to create a campaign against the tax. 

Voter turnout, which was just over 10% Tuesday, was slightly above the 8% voter turnout in the last school and special election in 2018.

Jazzlyn "Jazzie” is the former senior reporter for our team, who joined the company in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, through the Report for America service program. For the past two years, she covered...

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