Overland Park councilmember floats getting rid of city food sales tax

Share this story:

Editor’s Note: Comments from Councilmember Logan Heley have been added to this story since it first published.

Overland Park City Councilmember Faris Farassati is looking to reduce or potentially eliminate the city’s sales tax on food.

He says doing so would provide much-needed relief to residents dealing with a rise in property taxes, with the average home appraisal value in Johnson County up by 12% from last year.

But city officials say cutting the local sales tax on food would have practical ramifications on Overland Park’s budget and may not even be possible under state law. Another councilmember called the proposal patently “illegal.”

Farassati says the city can afford the loss

  • In an interview with the Post, Farassati said Overland Park has taken in roughly $30 million in extra revenue in property tax collection over the last two years.
  • Therefore, he said, the city can afford to eliminate its food sales tax, or at least reduce it, without having to find alternative ways to supplement the lost revenue.
  • “Here we have a chance to cut [residents] some relief,” Farassati said. “The target population is the middle class and lower class.”

Overland Park’s local sales tax rate is 1.125%

  • In 2022, food sales tax made up about 3.1% of the city’s general fund, according to Overland Park Communications Manager Meg Ralph.
  • The city estimates that if food sales tax had been exempted for the city’s 2024 budget, Overland Park would have lost approximately $6.2 million in revenue.
  • That money goes towards things like police and fire operations, street improvements and other city services and programs, Ralph said.
Overland Park City Councilmember Faris Farassati. File photo.

The city says it cannot grant sales tax exemptions

  • Ralph also noted the city is limited by state statute on what it can do to its local food sales tax.
  • In 2006, the Kansas Legislature adopted a bill that, in part, prevents cities from opting out of part of the tax statutes in order to restore uniformity to local sales tax provisions.
  • Overland Park Mayor Curt Skoog and 21 other Johnson and Wyandotte County mayors also recently signed a letter earlier this year opposing a bill that would have eliminated local sales taxes on food.
  • Ward 1 Councilmember Logan Heley called Farassati’s idea “currently illegal” under state law and something “other city leaders have already explored over the past few years.”
  • This also comes as a law went into effect this year lowering the state sales tax on food from 6.5% to 4%, and there have been calls — including from Gov. Laura Kelly — to completely eliminate the state sales tax on groceries.
Overland Park food sales tax
In December, Gov. Laura Kelly used a trip to Roeland Park to lay out her legislative proposals for cutting some taxes that she says would save Kansans more than $500 million over the next three years, including eliminating the state sales tax on food. File photo.

Farassati wants to pursue the issue further

  • Farassati says he has requested Skoog add a discussion item to the city council agenda in order to formally discuss the possibility of reducing or eliminating the local food sales tax.
  • He also says he has requested a detailed evaluation and report be conducted by city staff on how the potential removal of the local sales tax could impact the city’s budget.
  • “Because staff needs time to provide a good technical report, I didn’t give them a timeline of when I would like it done,” Farassati said. “But I would prefer to have this discussion somewhere in summer.”
  • In addition, the Overland Park City Council is set to hold a preliminary public hearing on the city’s 2024 budget at its upcoming April 17 meeting.

Go deeper: Johnson County mayors oppose bill to end local food sales tax

About the author

Nikki Lansford
Nikki Lansford

Hi! I’m Nikki, and I cover the city of Overland Park.

I grew up in southern Overland Park and graduated from Olathe East before going on to earn a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. At Mizzou, I worked as a reporter and editor at the Columbia Missourian. Prior to joining the Post, I had also done work for the Northeast News, PolitiFact Missouri and Kaiser Health News.

We work hard to make it easy for you to keep up on your community with short, to-the-point coverage and easy-to-scan newsletters — but we can’t produce local coverage without local support. To our nearly 7,000 subscribers: THANK YOU! If you aren’t a subscriber yet, we hope you’ll give one a try today — your first month of full access is just $1!