Great Bend voters approve sales tax questions including funding for new police station

Great Bend voters to decide on sales tax question next Tuesday
Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 5:45 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Update Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021: Great Bend voters Tuesday night said “yes” on three sales-tax-related questions that includes funding for a new police station. The police-station-related measure is a 0.10 percent sales tax to finance the cost of station improvements. This measure passed by an unofficial count of 71 percent to 29 percent (1,382 for versus 573 against).

Also related to first responders, voters by a similar margin, 69 percent to 31 percent, approved a o.20 percent sales tax “to finance the operations of he city’s police and fire departments, including pensions, and providing property tax relief.

The first measure voters considered passed less convincingly, 55 percent to 45 percent. This first proposal asked if the city should impose a 0.15 percent sales tax “to pay the costs of quality of life purposes, improvements and initiatives.”

Several Kansas communities have sales tax questions on the ballot for next Tuesday’s non-partisan elections. That includes in Great Bend where voters will decide on funding a new police station and two other sales tax questions.

One of the biggest problems with Great Bend’s police station is that the evidence room lacks space. Great Bend Police Chief Steve Haulmark said space issues are felt throughout the station, including the team’s meeting room where his department completes most of its work.

“Several times a day, there might be 12 people in this room,” Haulmark said. “So, you can imagine that really limits the productivity during those times.”

The current Great Bend PD building is 7,500 square feet. The new building would nearly triple that size. A 0.10 percent increase in sales tax would help build the new police station and municipal courtroom. The annual revenue generated from that would be about $378,000.

The other sales tax questions on the ballot include a 0.15 percent increase for quality of life improvements, generating $565,000 annually that would be used to keep parks updated and bring concerts and attractions to town. The final sales tax question in Great Bend is a 0.20 percent increase to fund improvements to police and fire personnel’s pensions. That would generate $755,000 annually.

“My vision is people choose to be here in Great Bend,” said Great Bend City Administrator Kendal Francis.

Eyewitness News spoke with several business owners in Great Bend who says this is not the right time for these sales tax questions due to recovery issues from the COViD-19 pandemic.

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