Missouri judge rejects lawsuit over earnings tax

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A central Missouri judge has rejected a lawsuit challenging part of a voter-approved law dealing with city earnings taxes.

Missouri voters last year approved a state ballot measure that required Kansas City and St. Louis to hold an election to decide whether to keep their municipal earnings taxes and hold a subsequent election every five years to allow voters to decide whether to keep the tax. The measure also bars other communities from imposing the tax on local earnings and profits.

A lawsuit filed by a labor leader and the city manager in Kansas City sought to block the requirement for periodic elections in the city. The suit, filed by the Kansas City attorney’s office, argued that the election requirement violated the city’s charter and the state constitution, partly because it requires an election every five years without providing any funding. Officials estimated the election costs about $500,000.

The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/qd8Im2 ) reported Wednesday that the lawsuit was rejected this week by trial judge in the state Capitol’s home of Cole County. Circuit Judge Jon Beetem ruled there is no violation of Kansas City’s charter or of the state constitution because Kansas City officials could abolish the earnings tax on their own and forestall the need for an election.

Voters in Kanas City and St. Louis opted to keep the local earnings tax in the first election required by the voter-approved law. Another election would be required in 2016 to continue the tax.

A separate lawsuit challenging the earnings tax law also was filed last month in the Cole County.

That legal challenge has been brought by several civic leaders in Kansas City, including Fire Chief Richard Dyer and Anita Gorman, who helped lead the effort to establish the earnings tax in 1963. It too focuses on the renewal vote, arguing the Kansas City charter authorizes the local earnings tax without requiring the periodic elections.

Alex Bartlett, an attorney representing those challenging the earnings tax law in the most recent lawsuit, said it raises a separate argument that Beetem’s ruling did not address.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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