Tuesday, March 6, 2012

In “State of the Government” speech, Reardon calls for property tax relief with casino revenue

By NICK SLOAN, NJSloan212@gmail.com

If Unified Government Mayor/CEO Joe Reardon has his way, casino revenue generated by the new

Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway will be used for property tax relief short-term and long-term for Wyandotte County residents.

Reardon, giving his Wyandotte County “State of the Government” speech this afternoon at the Jack Reardon Convention Center, proposed a long-term plan to lower property taxes.

During the speech, Reardon called for a budget this year that holds the line on property taxes.

“Casino revenue should mean a lessening of property taxes for our homeowners over time,” Reardon said. “I commit to you today that I will support a budget that holds the line on property taxes next year and develops a plan for long-term property tax reduction that our citizens deserves.”

“It should be the first commitment we make concerning casino tax dollars paid to the UG and I encourage others to follow.”

If the first week of the casino’s operation is any indication, there could be good news for Wyandotte County residents.

The casino generated over $7 million worth of business in its first full week of operation.

Along with the casino revenue dollars, Reardon renewed his call for the additional one percent of payments from the casino be used to help the overall health of Wyandotte County, particularly its children and senior citizens.

“It is my hope we devote the additional one percent of revenue to improving the health of children, seniors and young persons in our community,” Reardon said. “As you may be aware, Wyandotte County ranks poorly statewide in health outcomes. But we are on a path to changing this by forming the Healthy Communities Wyandotte initiative.”

Reardon said partnering with institutions and business, such as the local YMCA branches in Wyandotte County, is a priority to helping change the poor health statistics of Wyandotte County.

Additional highlights of the speech:
  • In looking back on the year, Reardon pointed to the several new economic developments that opened in 2011 or will in 2012. In 2011, Wyandotte County had over $158 million in commercial construction activity.
  • Reardon announced a new 70,000 square-foot Price Chopper will be held at 78th and State Avenue, replacing the current store. More details about the project will be announced down the road.
  • Reardon called for additional collaboration between the UG and Board of Public Utilities when it comes to eliminating duplication of resources in departments.
  • Reardon recommended that the $100,000 from the casino provided to the parks and recreation should be used to fund four grants of $25,000. The grants would be used on the “renewal developments” on four parks in Wyandotte County.
  • There was an overall slight increase in crime in 2011. However, for the fourth straight year in a row, there were less than 1,000 violent crimes in Wyandotte County and violent crime has dropped by 65 percent since 1991.