Elections

Voters defeat sales tax initiatives in Bel Aire, Valley Center, Andover, Wichita

Voters were not in a mood to endorse sales tax initiatives on Tuesday.

Bel Aire’s sales tax was defeated 55 percent to 44 percent, with about 1,700 votes cast.

“I’ve been watching the results and all the sales tax issues are failing,” said Ty Lasher, Bel Aire city manager. “Valley Center is down. Wichita is down big. And Andover is down.”

Andover’s sales tax proposal was defeated 53 percent to 47 percent with about 4,000 votes cast.

Valley Center voters also defeated a sales tax question, 55 percent to 44 percent. About 2,300 people cast ballots in that race.

Wichita’s sales tax initiative also was soundly defeated.

The sales tax issues in Bel Aire, Valley Center and Andover all were 1 percent sales tax increases.

“I think Wichita’s sales tax got lots of attention,” Lasher said. “Ours was just for streets. I think Wichita affected all of us.”

Lasher said it will be up to Bel Aire’s City Council to decide how to repair and replace streets.

“We will have to look at property taxes or cutting services,” he said. “That is a decision the governing body will have to make.”

Joel Pile,Valley Center’s city manager, voiced a similar opinion.

“It’s back to the drawing board,” he said. “We know we have a number of critical infrastructure streets that we have to tackle sooner than later. Unfortunately, it means we will be looking at property taxes next.”

Bel Aire’s ballot measure called for the tax to pay for a general local street plan, while Valley Center’s specified 10 street projects for its tax.

The Valley Center tax was expected to raise between $3.5 million and $4 million. Bel Aire’s sales tax was expected to bring in $200,000 a year.

Andover already has a sales tax but officials wanted to double the city sales tax to 2 cents per dollar to reduce property taxes and fund $13 million in projects.

Adding another penny to the dollar was expected to raise $2 million annually and put Andover’s sales tax rate at 8.4 percent.

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @beccytanner.

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