There is movement underfoot in Wyandotte County. Whether because of social media or some other media, there is a growing awareness that things aren’t quite right in the Dotte. People are unhappy and restless.
A bill that increases our personal income tax passed the legislature recently, the largest tax increase in Kansas history. Three of the four legislators who represent Wyandotte County, including Reps., Kathy Wolfe Moore (D), Tom Burroughs (D), and Sen. David Haley(D) voted in favor of the tax increase—Sen. Steve Fitzgerald (R) voted against it.
Then there’s the ongoing broken promise from ALL City and county politicians that our property taxes will stop increasing year after year—because of the Woodlands, because of Sandstone Amphitheater, because of consolidation and annexation, because of the NASCAR track, because of the Legends, because of the state-owned casino…the list goes on. The promise remains broken.
Wyandotte is the poorest county in the metropolitan area. It’s become a sick joke that our tiny county has one of the highest median property tax rates in the country. Median income doubles, on the other hand, just a few miles away in Johnson County. Makes a Dotte wonder what keeps going wrong over here.
Every measurement of physical health reveals that residents in the Dotte are more likely to suffer from cancer, heart disease, stroke, and almost all other diseases, more often than anywhere else in the state. Wyandotte County has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the area and THE HIGHEST infant mortality rate for African American babies in the entire country.
In happier news, Wyandotte County taxpayers now own a minor league baseball stadium. Also, because of the generosity of the Wyandotte County taxpayer, The T-Bones outstanding BPU bill is paid in full. In addition, because we own the T-Bones stadium, the UG touts the $246,000 we’ll save by not having to pay property taxes on the stadium. Wait, what?
Sadly, for the UG administration/CEO anyway, taxpayers are starting to recognize the pretzel logic here. That is, while taxpayers will not be divvying up $246,000 to pay on behalf of a private business, we’ve lost $246,000 in tax revenue from a private business. Because it’s not private anymore. We own it. You see what they did there? More and more Dottes do see it, and it’s not okay.
Supporters of this shysty land acquisition claim it’s a wash. Taxpayers are saving a ton of money because the property is tax-exempt, they say. But it’s not a wash. We’ve lost money. Nearly a quarter of million bucks. Also, I wonder who pays for maintenance and facility upgrades at our stadium. Oh, that’s right…we do. Because we own it and like all property owned by anybody, it must be cared for and maintained and the grass cut and the broken stuff fixed. These things are not tended to by the magical UG Fairies. They are tended to by humans who are given a bi-monthly paycheck which is funded with taxpayer money. My money. Your money. Where do we cut back in our own budgets so that we can afford these additional expenses? I’m willing to guess here that the average Dotte is tapped out—tax-wise.
This recent restlessness may be a result of Dottes finally realizing something the most Reverend Mayor Holland admitted in a recent candidate forum. Holland joked that the UG does not have a money-printing machine in the basement of City Hall. He may have been wise to keep that little detail a secret. Dottes now have to face the harsh reality that THE ONLY MONEY THE UG HAS IS TAKEN FROM PRIVATE CITIZENS in the form of taxes and fees. Oh yeah, and private businesses—not the kind owned publicly that don’t pay taxes and fees like the T-Bones stadium (Sandstone Amphitheater, Memorial Hall, et al.)
Something is wrong in the Dotte. In fact, many things are wrong, but that’s nothing new. There is, however, increased rancor coursing through the smallest county in the state. Residents are clamoring for answers. Upcoming county-wide elections offer a Dotte-Do-Over. From the head office—mayor/CEO to the sheriff, county commissioners and board members of the public utility (BPU), Dottes once again have an opportunity to try new leadership.
In past elections, nothing much changed in the county. The same ole’ insider’s club generally remains in office, or plays a cool game of musical chairs, appointing and electing the entrenched and their in-laws and relatives. Will the upcoming election be any different? We’ll find out who the players are after the August 1 primary.
November 7, 2017, may reveal a very different Wyandotte County. Or not. History suggests the latter.