So here's what we know about the campaign to eliminate the earnings tax in Kansas City, Missouri: It's dishonest.
On Thursday, the e-tax abolishers pretended to catch the city in a lie. Like a detective raising a suspect's handcuffed wrist in the air, the campaign says the city was recently forced to admit that the entire $200 million collected by the tax does not go to police and firefighters. Of course, city officials never made such a claim.
Where does the money go? This is from a fact sheet distributed by the Save Kansas City Committee:
Total revenue from the earnings tax is approximately $200 million, which pays for essential city services, including public safety, street maintenance, trash collection and other basic needs.It's true that police and fire officials are making dire warnings about the tax disappearing; most of the revenue is used to pay cops and firefighters. But, as the Star's Yael Abouhalkah noted yesterday, no one is claiming that the e-tax is spent entirely on catching crooks and responding to alarms.
The repealers are also shrieking about the fact that a portion of the e-tax funds economic-development projects. To be sure, the e-tax's defenders aren't boasting that $16 million of the $200 million will be diverted this year to developers via tax-increment financing. But no one's denying it, either. After all, intercepting sales, property and, yes, local income taxes is pretty much what TIF is all about.
There's an ironic aspect to the e-tax repealers' TIF argument. The political shop that's waging the campaign has an office inside a business district that benefits from this form of public subsidy.
Axiom Strategies leases space at Briarcliff, a planned community north of the river. Briarcliff Development Co. began building houses in the area in the 1990s. Offices and shopping were added later. Axiom is located inside the development's Hilltop Office Building, which "offers stunning views of both downtown and the Missouri River Valley," according to the Briarcliff website.
Briarcliff has received $21 million in TIF subsidies, according to the latest records on file with the state.