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The Journal – Fall 2019 – The Heaviest Lifts

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The issues facing local governments in Kansas are growing ever more challenging and complex. It’s another reason why communities need voters to get informed, engaged and cast a ballot on Nov. 5.

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The elections in Kansas communities on Nov. 5 are a great reminder that the problems facing local governments in Kansas are growing ever more challenging and complex. That’s why it’s more important than ever for residents to be informed about these topics and engaged in addressing them.

One of the most difficult challenges facing many communities across the state is a lack of child care. Just three counties meet 100% or more of the demand for child care within their borders. The shortage is stressing parents and hurting the bottom lines of businesses. The problem is particularly acute in southwest Kansas. In Garden City and Finney County, where a local coalition is building a network to chip away at a deficit of more than 700 child care slots. But no one anywhere seems to have a clear roadmap for unraveling a web of complex and often invisible challenges.

Shortages in affordable housing have also been affecting communities across the state. In Johnson County, the average sale price of a home topped $320,000 in 2017 and rents now average more than $1,000 a month. At the same time, 28% of the jobs in the county pay less than $15 an hour. The high cost of housing could make the county increasingly less affordable for seniors looking to downsize, teachers, public safety workers and recent college graduates.

Other election-related issues highlighted in this edition include:

  • The story behind how St. John, Kansas, brought in a new grocery store after its Dillons store closed.
  • How sales tax trends might complicate economic revitalization efforts in Kansas City, Kansas.
  • The ways in which this fall’s election results might set the tone for the Kansas City, Kansas, USD 500 Board of Education going forward.
  • Government transparency in Wichita and how concerns about it are influencing efforts to develop the community’s riverfront.
  • A preview of “Your Local Candidates: In Their Own Words,” an online project to information about local candidates in at least 49 elections across the state.

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