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Posted on: June 30, 2021

Information about the Fire Protection Sales Tax vote on August 3

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FIRE PROTECTION SALES TAX - August 3, 2021 Special Election

Harrisonville voters will be asked to consider a Fire Protection Sales Tax on the August 3 ballot.


What is a Fire Protection Sales Tax?

LEGAL DEFINITION: (RSMO 321.242) The governing body of any fire protection district which operates within and has boundaries identical to a city with a population of at least thirty thousand but not more than thirty-five thousand inhabitants which is located in a county of the first classification, excluding a county of the first classification having a population in excess of nine hundred thousand, or the governing body of any municipality having a municipal fire department may impose a sales tax in an amount of up to one-half of one percent on all retail sales made in such fire protection district or municipality which are subject to taxation pursuant to the provisions of sections 144.010 to 144.525.  The tax authorized by this section shall be in addition to any and all other sales taxes allowed by law, except that no sales tax imposed pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be effective unless the governing body of the fire protection district or municipality submits to the voters of such fire protection district or municipality, at a county or state general, primary or special election, a proposal to authorize the governing body of the fire protection district or municipality to impose a tax.

EXPLANATION: A Fire Protection Sales Tax is a sales tax (less than ½ of 1 percent) that helps Fire departments be able to operate. 

In this instance, the tax, which will be collected anytime someone, including both residents and non-residents, makes a purchase in Harrisonville, will be designated for operating the Harrisonville Emergency Services Department.  

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In 2009, voters in the City of Harrisonville adopted a 3/8 cent Public-Safety Sales Tax, with 0.250-percent going to the Emergency Services Department and 0.125-percent going to the Police Department. While this 0.250-percent remains dedicated to funding the daily operations of the Emergency Services Department, including fire protection and emergency medical services, the department still finds itself operating at an annual deficit.

Each year, the increasing cost of operations for the Emergency Services Department, compounded by a growing difficulty to recuperate payment for the services the department provides to both Harrisonville residents and thousands of others living in the surrounding area, have forced the department to pull large amounts of monies from the City’s General Fund to fully operate the department.

Here is an overview the funds transferred from the General Fund since 2015:

    2015     $576,384.00

    2016     $684,500.00

    2017     $302,000.00

    2018     $328,430.00

    2019     $849,958.00

    2020     $629,429.48

    2021 (projected) $635,000.00

As illustrated above, the money pulled annually from the General Fund is steadily growing and are expected to provide an even greater burden on the General Fund due to increasing costs for personnel, continued reduction in payer reimbursements and the constant threat of inflating costs on supplies needed to effectively provide Fire and EMS services to the citizens of Harrisonville.

The City’s General Fund is the principal operating fund of the City and accounts for all financial transactions not accounted for in other funds. The general operating expenditures, fixed charges, and capital improvement costs that are not paid through other funds are financed through revenues received by the General Fund. This includes departments like Streets, Police, Utilities, Animal Control, Municipal Court and others.

When money is pulled out of the General Fund to balance a deficit in another fund, like the Emergency Services Fund, this creates potential limitations for the budgets of the services listed above.

It’s estimated that a Fire Protection Sales Tax will bring in $700,000; with revenue from the tax being used exclusively to fund the daily operations of the Emergency Services Department and significantly decrease the need to pull funds from the City’s General Fund. These revenues will allow the department to be competitive in the hiring process, continue to provide up-to-date vehicles and equipment and ensure that top-of-the-line fire and emergency medical services are still available to the Harrisonville community.

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Each of these items will allow the department to pursue its goal of lowering the City’s ISO (Insurance Service Office) Fire Rating – which is currently at a 3 (10 is worst. 1 is best). Our ISO fire rating determines how well our local fire department can protect both your home and the community as a whole. Insurance companies use the score to help set home insurance rates, as homes that are less likely to be severely damaged or destroyed by fire are cheaper to insure and therefore, cheaper for you to own.

The City of Harrisonville carried an ISO Fire Rating of 4 for many years, until Harrisonville Emergency Services was able to hire full-time staff following the Public Safety Sales Tax vote in 2009. After the move to full-time, administration and staff have worked diligently to improve the City’s rating – which was finally achieved in 2019. The department would like to move the rating even lower as we look to the future.

Without a significant increase to Emergency Services Fund revenues, the vital services provided by the Emergency Services Department will, over time, no longer be a financially responsible option for the City to offer for our residents.

Furthermore, the burden placed upon the General Fund will begin to see a steady depletion of its reserves, placing a further burden on the operation of several City departments. 

For purchases made inside city limits of Harrisonville that collect sales tax, by both residents and non-residents, this tax will increase the final cost of the item by:

    Less than 1 penny for a $1 purchase

    2.5 cents for a $5 purchase

    10 cents for a $20 purchase

    25 cents for a $50 purchase

    50 cents for a $100 purchase 

Many cities in Missouri have a voter-approved Fire Protection Sales Tax in place for purchases made by both residents and non-residents, including: Lee's Summit, Belton, Independence, Kansas City, Liberty and many others. Currently, the City of Harrisonville receives no Fire Protection Sales Tax revenue.

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FIRE PROTECTION SALES TAX FAQs


What is a Fire Protection Sales Tax?

A Fire Protection Sales Tax is a sales tax (less than ½ of 1 percent) that helps Fire departments be able to operate. 

In this instance, the tax, which will be collected anytime someone, including both residents and non-residents, makes a purchase in Harrisonville, will be designated for operating the Harrisonville Emergency Services Department.  

How does a Fire Protection Sales Tax work?

When a person buys something in Harrisonville, a ½ of 1% sales tax will be added to their total amount for the item they are buying. These funds will go to the City of Harrisonville and can only be used for operating the Harrisonville Emergency Services Department.

This will apply to both Harrisonville residents and to non-Harrisonville residents. This includes those who live in the surrounding area who come to Harrisonville to shop or to buy gas, those just passing through on the way to the lake, visiting fans buying dinner before a football game at Memorial Stadium, those visiting family in the area, etc.

Each year, the increasing cost of operations for the Emergency Services Department, compounded by a growing difficulty to recuperate payment for the services the department provides to both Harrisonville residents and thousands of others living in the surrounding area, have forced the department to pull large amounts of monies from the City’s General Fund to fully operate the department.

It’s estimated that a Fire Protection Sales Tax will bring in $700,000, with revenue from the tax being used exclusively to fund the daily operations of the Emergency Services Department and significantly decrease the need to pull funds from the City’s General Fund. These revenues will allow the department to be competitive in the hiring process, continue to provide sup-to-date vehicles and equipment and ensure that top-of-the-line fire and emergency medical services are still available to the Harrisonville community.

What will revenue from a Fire Protection Sales Tax be used for?

The money brought in by a Fire Protection Sales Tax will be used to fund the daily operations of the Harrisonville Emergency Services Department.

This includes: Allowing the department to offer competitive wages and attract quality EMT’s and Paramedics to our community, staying competitive with the rising costs of emergency equipment, maintaining proper training and certifications, etc.

As an example, the Harrisonville Emergency Services Department currently has three (3) ambulances. These ambulances need to be replaced over time and the cost to do so is rising fast.

    In 2016, the cost to replace a 2016 Type 1 Ambulance was $175,000

    In 2018, the cost to replace a 2017 Type 1 Ambulance was $217,000

    In 2020, the cost to replace a 2019 Type 1 Ambulance was $224,000

Without a significant increase to Emergency Services Fund revenues, the vital services provided by the Emergency Services Department will, over time, no longer be a financially responsible option for the City to offer for our residents.

Furthermore, the burden placed upon the General Fund will begin to see a steady depletion of its reserves, placing a further burden on the operation of several City departments.

Who does the Harrisonville Emergency Services Department serve?

The Harrisonville Emergency Services Department serves anyone in and around the Harrisonville community. This includes residents, those living just outside Harrisonville, those passing through Harrisonville, those that smaller fire departments or fire protection districts do not have the equipment or man power to assist and those needing to be transferred from Cass Regional Medical Center to other hospitals in and around the Kansas City Metropolitan Area.

Did you know that each year, Harrisonville Emergency Services transfers nearly twice as many non-Harrisonville residents to Kansas City metro hospitals as they do Harrisonville residents?

TRANSFERS BY YEAR (2017-2020)


2017201820192020
Residents345340405324
Non-residents627708714680


Who will pay the Fire Protection Sales Tax?

If passed, a ½ of 1% Fire Protection Sales Tax will be paid when a person buys something in Harrisonville. These funds will go to the City of Harrisonville and can only be used for operating the Harrisonville Emergency Services Department.

This will apply to both Harrisonville residents and to non-Harrisonville residents. This includes those who live in the surrounding area who come to Harrisonville to shop or to buy gas, those just passing through on the way to the lake, visiting fans buying dinner before a football game at Memorial Stadium, those visiting family in the area, etc.

Why is the Harrisonville Emergency Service Department not able to fully fund its own daily operations?

Throughout the world, fire departments and emergency service departments exist for the safety and well being of their communities. They keep people safe and allow them to live their lives without worrying about what they would do if the unthinkable were to happen. They are not for-profit organizations and do not operate with the mindset of “How can we get people to spend more money?”

Each year, the increasing cost of operations for the Emergency Services Department, compounded by a growing difficulty to recuperate payment for the services the department provides to both Harrisonville residents and thousands of others living in the surrounding area, have tightened the department’s budget and forced the department to pull large amounts of monies from the City’s General Fund to continue their daily operations.

Without a significant increase to Emergency Services Fund revenues, the vital services provided by the Emergency Services Department will, over time, no longer be a financially responsible option for the City to offer for Harrisonville residents.

How much revenue will be generated from a Fire Protection Sales Tax?

It’s estimated that a Fire Protection Sales Tax will bring in $700,000; with revenue from the tax being used exclusively to fund the daily operations of the Emergency Services Department and significantly decrease the need to pull funds from the City’s General Fund.

Are items exempt from sales taxes?

Yes. While the Missouri sales tax of 4.225% applies to most transactions, there are certain items that may be exempt from taxation. Exempt items include:

    Medical devices and services

    Manufacturing materials

    Utilities and fuel

    Software and digital products

    Certain agricultural materials

    Etc.

In addition to these items, Missouri has special lowered tax rates for certain types of staples goods, such as groceries – which currently have a 1% sales tax rate. 

Do other cities in Missouri have a Fire Protection Sales Tax?

Many cities in Missouri have a voter-approved Fire Protection Sales Tax in place for purchases made by both residents and non-residents, including: Lee's Summit, Belton, Independence, Kansas City, Liberty and many others.

What is the proposed Fire Protection Sales Tax rate for Harrisonville?

The proposed Fire Protection Sales Tax rate for Harrisonville will be ½ of 1%.

This rate will not change, unless approved by you the voters.

If approved, when will the Fire Protection Sales Tax go into effect?

If approved by voters, the Fire Protection Sales Tax will go into effect in the fall of 2021.

When do I vote and how is the question worded on the ballot?

The 2021 August Special Election will be held on Tuesday, August 3, 2021. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Here is what you will see on the ballot:

    Shall the City of Harrisonville, Missouri, impose a sales tax of one-half of one percent (0.5%) for the purpose of providing revenues for the operation of Harrisonville Emergency Services? 

⃞   YES       ⃞   NO

The item will be listed as "Option 1"

View a sample ballot >>  https://www.casscounty.com/DocumentCenter/View/2514/Sample-Ballot-Aug-2021

We want to make sure you have all the facts about the Fire Protection Sales Tax! If you have any questions, contact City Clerk Daniel Barnett at dbarnett@harrisonville.com or 816-380-8916.

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