By Geoff Gerling
Jackson County voters will be asked to renew and expand a tax serving children on this November’s ballot. Since its inception by state initiative and approval by local voters, the Children’s Service Fund (CSF) has awarded $85 million in support of programs and services across Jackson County. Each program is dedicated to serving children and their families in need of programs designed for mental health, in-home prevention services, crisis intervention within the school and more. The program itself is not a government service but rather a fund that assists existing programs through grants out of a fund generated by a 1/8 cent sales tax within Jackson County.
State law allows this fund to be a maximum of ¼ of a cent and this county-wide ballot question would take the tax to the state maximum and also make it indefinite. Currently, the tax has to be renewed or canceled by the voters every 6 years.
The fund serves children and groups in every zip code of the county including about four dozen organizations in the South Kansas City/Grandview area including Center School District. Dr. Yolanda Cargile, Superintendent of CSD says: “The support from the Children’s Services Fund allows the Center School District to have full time social workers in each of our elementary schools. Schools are in a unique position to support the mental health of our students. The presence of social workers in school has provided a measurable positive impact on the mental health of our students.”
Proponents of the fund say the very small tax has a huge impact on the most vulnerable children in our community and the increase would allow for more organizations to be funded. Further, eliminating the Sunset Clause takes away the need for outside funding to ensure the tax’s renewal on a regular schedule. Opponents say this is a bad time for a tax increase with high gas prices and rising inflation. Voting yes would ultimately double the tax but still only amount to a few dollars a month for the average family.
Information about the CSF can be found at www.jacksoncountykids.org