PAOLA — Paola voters didn’t just renew the city’s half-cent sales tax during the Nov. 5 election, they overwhelmingly supported it.
The renewal of the tax, which will help fund the Paola Family Pool, parks and streets, passed with 552 “yes” votes (75 percent) and 179 “no” votes (25 percent).
The results won’t become official until after the canvass of votes Friday, Nov. 15, when provisional ballots may be approved and added to the totals.
Paola City Manager Jay Wieland thanked the voters for their support and said the tax will continue to be put to good use.
“The Paola City Council and staff would like to thank our community for their support of the local option sales tax renewal,” Wieland said. “Funding from this sales tax will provide for badly needed financing for the operation, maintenance, and improvement of the swimming pool and other park facilities. It will also allow us to accelerate our street improvement program over the next several years.”
The tax has already made a big impact on the Paola community for more than two decades.
In 1996, Paola voters approved a half-cent sales tax to fund the construction and operation of the pool and generate revenue to establish a pool reserve fund. By the time the 10-year sales tax first came up for renewal in 2005, that reserve fund had grown to a sizable amount, so city leaders focused on needed improvements to city buildings, as well as streets and parking lots.
Voters supported the tax once again, and it was renewed in 2005 to fund the construction and renovation of four city buildings — the Paola Justice Center, Paola Community Center, Paola City Hall and Paola Free Library.
All revenue that was collected above and beyond what was allotted for the projects went toward improving city streets and parking lots.
Recently, though, city officials said the city’s swimming pool is in need of major renovations and substantial upgrades, and the pool’s once sizable reserve fund is now almost entirely depleted.
The tax’s official renewal period was from 2006 to 2021, as it was approved by voters as a 15-year renewal. Now that it has been renewed again, the new term will begin once the existing tax expires in 2021.
The sales tax is estimated to generate about $11.5 million over its 15-year history.