Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sales Tax Vote - Deception #3

Let's review a couple of things real quick.  I am in favor of renewing the parks & pipes 1/8 sales tax.  I could support a 1/8 sales tax for pavement.  I am against piggy backing them into one question on a ballot. They should be separate questions on a ballot.  I am against a spring mail ballot because of the cost, and feel the right way to present it to the citizens of Shawnee would be at the November general election where the cost to the city would be zero.

Senior city staff has stated that a spring mail ballot election could be about $40K but that they cannot give a closer estimate because they don't know how many people would vote and return ballots.

That is deception #3 perpetrated by senior staff, and certain members of the council.  The cost associated with the actual number of return ballots is almost negligible when compared to the costs associated with the basics of creating the mail ballot election.

Look to my post below regarding Deception #2 (1/21/14)  and you will see how I calculated the estimate that I gave.  I will now show how to assign a viable estimate to the cost for the returns.  In that previous post I explained how I came up with my figures.  So I will just repeat them here:

The figures in the first column are what Olathe actually paid, the second column is the projected for Shawnee.  Keeping in mind that we have already calculated that the figures for Shawnee would be approximately 52.85% of Olathe.

Special   Board                                $8,868.69                  $4,687.10
Printing                                           $24,379.40                $12,884.51
Stuffing and mail preparation           $26,118.00                $13,803.36
Postage                                          $39,216.14                $20,725.66
Envelopes                                      $20,520.00                $10,824.00
Publications                                   $     281.16                 $    281.16

Total                                            $119,383.39               $63,205.79

OK, what we do know is that Olathe had a 32.5% return and the Shawnee figures are based on that.  The postage figures given above include both mail out and return.  All we have to do is take the Olathe figure and divide it by 1.325 and that will tell us the cost of the Olathe postage for mailing out the ballots.

$39,216.14/1.325 = $29,597 that would be Olathe's outbound mailing (approximately $10,000 for the return ballots)

$20,725.66/1.325 = $15,642 that would be Shawnee's cost for outbound mailing (approximately $5,000 for the return ballots)  (Or you can use 52.85% of Olathe's figure and you come up with the same)

What that means, is that if NOBODY returned a ballot (voted) the city would still have to pay approximately $58,000.

My estimates for the cost to Shawnee are actually low because:
1.  The cost of the board would probably be somewhat higher because of certain basic costs.
2.  The cost of postage (outbound and return) would be higher because of  postage increases
3.  Printing would be higher than projected because of the lower volume (higher cost per page)  The total would not as high as Olathe but probably higher than my estimate.  The ballots are not on thin paper either.
4.  Envelopes - the return envelopes which have to be included with every ballot are not your ordinary run of the mill BRE type of envelopes.  They require certain legal statements and certain tear off segments for accountability purposes.  And, the envelopes for the outbound mailing are somewhat unique. (Base on previous mail ballots that I have received).

I'll stand by my estimate of $63,205.79, which would probably be on the low side.  And, IMHO, those that can't see that might be suffering from a deficiency in basic mathematical calculations.  Nothing fancy or super scientific here.

WARNING!!!!!! The City Manager of Shawnee has determined that local bloggers post items that may contain bad or misinformation. Please read these posts with care and determine for yourself whether the information is valid.