KEARNEY — The most significant expenditure planned for Kearney in fiscal 2021 is the second Interstate 35 interchange. The work accounts for 55% of the city’s total planned expenses at more than $21 million. The city will receive $10 million from the Missouri Department of Transportation to offset costs for the work as part of a cost-share agreement. The total budget is estimated to be roughly $38.4 million.
Other expenditures highlighted in the budget include safety improvements in sidewalks near Dogwood Elementary School, sidewalks and a crossing along 19th Street in the Brookhaven subdivision and a street crossing connecting Brookhaven and Blue Sky Gardens subdivision sidewalks. Lions Park, located off Jefferson Street downtown, is also slated to see upgrades that includes adding a splash pad feature for young children.
To pay for part of the park work, the city received $250,000 from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Land and Water Conservation Fund. In addition, the Kearney Enrichment Council has committed to fundraising $300,000 for the work.
In his budget summary, City Administrator Jim Eldridge said the city needs to consider a use tax on the August or November ballot to generate added revenues for needed infrastructure improvements like stormwater upgrades.
“We have not been able to include funding for the Shadowbrook storm repairs, the 12th Street culvert, Regency Park stormwater issues, sanitary sewer relining in Kearney Manor and the Southbrook subdivision, the North Grove water replacement; the list goes on,” he said of the need for added funds.
While aldermen have not approved putting a tax to voters on a coming ballot, they are considering a use tax like many cities have, which would allow the city to collect local sales tax on motor vehicles, trailers, boats and outboard motors that are titled in Missouri but purchased out of state.
Eldridge said if approved, the tax would generate an estimated $180,000 annually that could be used as debt collateral for financing all needed projects or to complete projects on a pay-as-you-go schedule.
“It would be proposed the use tax proceeds be placed in a fund restricted for capital improvements and budgeted according to priority needs,” he said.
Mayor Randy Pogue said a use tax levels the playing field for cities and states.
“It’s not double taxation or really a new tax, it’s just paying what you should have for any items bought outside Kearney,” he said.