Voters approve 0.5 percent sales tax increase in Manhattan

(Photo Illustration by Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

With about 60 percent of the unofficial vote count, the city of Manhattan approved a 0.5 percent sales tax increase within city limits — covering both Riley County and Pottawatomie County portions.

The sales tax, which will take effect on Jan. 1, 2023, takes the place of the Riley County sales tax of the same size set to expire at the end of 2022.

The passage of this sales tax, however, doesn’t mean the county doesn’t intend to renew its own tax between now and its expiration, Deb Nuss, a Manhattan resident, said. That’s just one of the reasons she decided to vote against the city-wide sales tax increase.

“Just on principle I’m opposed to any kind of special sales tax increases like this because they are regressive taxes, and they disproportionately negatively impact low income people or people on low fixed incomes,” Nuss said.

Nuss said that especially right now, during an economic crisis caused by a pandemic, the thought of adding a sales tax seems counterproductive

Regressive taxes are taxes applied to goods at an equal percentage and do not take into account the income of the person being taxed, but the value of the good purchased. Property taxes are also considered regressive taxes.

While the state of Kansas continues to impose sales taxes on essentials, like food and prescription medications, Nuss says there should be a moratorium on local-level sales tax increases — especially on increases meant to finance special projects.

The estimated $65 million this sales tax continuance is expected to generate over the course of 10 years will be divided up amongst three specific goals: debt and infrastructure, economic development and workforce housing expansion.

“This frees up previously pledged funds to be held in reserve to pay future financing obligations on substantial infrastructure and economic development related projects,” Ron Fehr, city manager, said in a press release. “Seeking responses by our local citizens in a high voter turnout election was very important. We look forward to working with the community and our community partners moving forward.”

If no other sales tax changes are passed at the local or state level before this 0.5 percent increase takes effect, sales tax in the Riley County portion of Manhattan will stay at 8.95 percent. Sales taxes could increase to 9.45 percent in the Pottawatomie County portion of Manhattan.

Of the 18,350 unofficial ballots cast on the issue, 11,138 were for and 7,212 were against.

My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the ex-managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.