Jackson County legislators Dan Tarwater and Theresa Galvin address issues at a recent Southern Communities Coalition meeting. Photo by Kathy Feist
Jackson County legislators update south KC residents
By Kathy Feist
Two Jackson County legislators updated those who attended the Southern Communities Coalition on Wednesday, November 20, at the South Patrol Police Campus, 9701 Marion Dr. Fourth District Rep. and Legislative Vice Chair Dan Tarwater and Sixth District Rep. and Legislative Chair Theresa Galvin also took questions from the audience.
Tarwater discussed the new addition of a County Administrator, which will take away many of the day to day responsibilities that County Executive Frank White currently handles, such as the assessment department or getting the elevators to work efficiently.. Tarwater and Galvin were in negotiations with Kansas City City Manager Troy Schulte for the position. According to Tarwater, at $220,000 Schulte will be the “highest paid employee in county history.” But he stressed that the administrator position will collapse three current positions with salaries totaling $330,000. (Schulte recently announced he would take on the role of County Administrator.)
“We tried everything we could to get [Frank White] to throw out the property assessments or have them capped at 15 percent,” said Tarwater in regards to this summer’s irrationally raised property taxes. He said the state has assigned an interem committe to work on legislation regarding property taxes. Some of the options under consideration might include having assessments every fourth year instead of two, placing a 15 percent cap on value increases, or providing relief for veterans and senior citizens. Galvin stressed there are some cost savings involved when property values increase: levies must decrease when property assessments increase over 1.9 percent.
Tarwater dismissed the current jail system as a “catch and release program.” The 640-prisoner jail now holds 1000, forcing criminals to be released back on the street after they are booked. This does not include violent criminals, however. Tarwater and Galvin said they would like to see an efficent jail built.
Combat, a community backed anti-crime tax designed to fight drug-related crimes, was reported as doing “perfectly fine.” A recent audit revealed there was $21 to $24 million in the program.