Future Tax Dollars Put In The Hands Of County Residents

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- A town hall meeting tonight invited community input on how dollars from a county-wide half cent sales tax would be spent.

The half cent sales tax was voted in by Shawnee County residents in 2004. As of September 20th, it has provided tens of millions of dollars for city and county infrastructure improvements and economic development. It expires in 2016 and local officials asked the crowd at the open forum if extending it is the right decision.

Topeka City Manager Jim Colson asked, "Do we want to extend the sales tax for the same purposes and does it include quality of living or does it not? Does it include infrastructure or does it not? Does it include economic development or does it not.?"
Area leaders say it's important voters know where the money would go. They presented a list of potential targets, including the zoo, Expocentre, bikeways, sidewalks and a riverfront park.

Those in attendance liked some of the list, and suggested additions.

Shawnee County resident Michael Bradley said, "Quality of life changes have really made some communities around us, and is starting to make Topeka, places where people want to live, which is then gonna attract businesses that want the best quality of people.

Senator Anthony Hensley of Topeka said,"I think it is important to look at Dornwood park as a real asset."

Fred Patton of Friends of the Zoo said, "We certainly believe it should be community wide and go after public and private dollars and this would be a good seed of money to help us get that started."

Former Highland Park High School Principal Dale Cushinberry said, "Our strength is in our total existence not just in East Topeka or West Topeka or North Topeka or South Topeka, and the question that has to be fundamentally asked? Is it good for Topeka?

The results from Monday night's discussions will be presented Tuesday evening at city council.

City officials plan on having more similar meetings in the future.