Voters to Decide on Sales Tax for County Annex

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By Stephanie Tyrpak
By Randy Livingston

VIENNA -- Johnson County voters will weigh in this November on a new 1 percent sales tax. The revenue would be used to build a new county office complex and replace a row of buildings on the Vienna square.

Some people will start casting their early voting ballots in just over a month. That's why the board is trying to get the word out about just why the new complex is needed to house offices, like the treasurer, sheriff, and county clerk.
 
The building on the corner of the Vienna square has been home to many businesses. Five years ago, the Johnson County Clerk moved in and joined other county offices located in a stretch of annex buildings.
     
"They are very workable, and we do service the people," said Johnson County Clerk Robin Harper-Whitehead. "But there are some major construction things that are happening now that concerns us."
 
Harper-Whitehead loves having the separate space. However, the roof leaks and the rooms are tight. There are also places where the floor is beginning to give way.
 
It's all signs that the annex could use some major renovations, but that would come with a big price tag. That's because the buildings are not up to code. 
 
"A lot of the things were not ADA-compliant," said County Board Chair Jeff Mears. "But these buildings we're grandfathered in, so we're not held to strict guidelines."
 
Mears and fellow commissioners have decided the best option is to build a new roughly six-million dollar facility.
 
"It would serve the people of Johnson County better," said Mears. "It'd surely serve the employees going in and out of these buildings."
 
The board is asking voters to approve a 1% sales tax increase. It would push the total to 7.75 percent.
 
"We didn't dare want to go on a property tax," said Mears. "Everybody has their fill of property tax already, and I think this sales tax is the fairest way."
     
Mears is now planning a series of town meetings to inform voters about the issue.
 
"Getting the word out there truly what this sales tax is, truly what it will fund, and how its going to help the county," said Mears. 
 
The goal is to keep the county complex on the town square and free up some parking for other businesses. The county board will meet Monday to look over plans for the new building.
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