Hutch sales tax: Streets and museums

If there’s a popular tax in Hutchinson, it might be the city sales tax partially dedicated for street and sidewalk repair.

Why, asked an audience member at a Thursday night public forum on the sales tax ballot, is funding for street maintenance “shackled together” with funding for the Cosmosphere and Strataca?

“That conversation does come up,” said City Manager John Deardoff.

Since the quarter-cent sales tax first appeared on the ballot in 1993, at least one museum – initially the Cosmosphere – has been paired with street maintenance as a beneficiary.

About 10 people were in Stage 9 seats at the start of the forum, with more people filtering in to hear Deardoff and Cosmosphere Chief Executive Officer Richard Hollowell and Strataca/Kansas Underground Salt Museum Director Mary Grace Clements. No one challenged the plan to continue giving 47 percent of the sales tax proceeds to street and sidewalk maintenance and 15 percent to property tax reduction.

A couple of people critically questioned why city sales tax continues to support the Cosmosphere, 11th and Plum, and Strataca, 3650 East Avenue G.

On Nov. 7, Hutchinson voters will vote on whether to continue the quarter-cent sales tax from its slated expiration on March 31, 2019, to March 31, 2024.

(Read more: News – The Hutchinson News)