By Joe Jarosz
July 30, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Voting yes on Aug. 5, for Phase II of the Transportation Development District will put Kansas City, Mo., on the right track, that’s according to some city officials.
The vote on Aug. 5, establishes a district to expand Kansas City’s transportation system and the Transportation Development District (TDD). This includes an upgrade of the Prospect Avenue bus service to MAX, extending the modern streetcar line on Main Street from Union Station to the University of Missouri – Kansas City, as well as adding streetcar lines on Linwood Boulevard and Independence Avenue. This will all be funded and constructed as a single project.
“There is lots of misinformation swirling around on this issue,” Steve Glorioso, media contact for the streetcar election, said. “For example, the common misconception is that everyone in Kansas City gets to vote on the transportation issue. Not true. Only the voters within the proposed TDD will get to cast a ballot on Aug. 5, and those boundaries can be found on our website.”
If the TDD is approved on Aug. 5, there will be a second vote to authorize the city’s taxation on Nov. 4. In other words, the Aug. 5, vote would determine whether or not the issue is on the Nov. 4 ballot. The TDD on Aug. 5, will detail the city’s maximum taxing authority. In addition, there will be a one cent sales tax levied within the areas defined as the TDD. The sales tax is paid by all those who shop within the TDD.
Scott Wagner, First District At-Large representative, wants those who are against the TDD to consider voting yes in order to obtain more information until the November election. He pointed out that there are other obstacles that can stop the Phase II lines, such as no federal dollars, that he believes it is better to have the opportunity to vote on the measure in November, than not be able to vote on it at all. The importance of the federal dollars coincides with the city showing increased ridership and that it can match the funding.
“I’m hoping for the opportunity to get time for more answers to the questions being asked,” Wagner said. “Give us a chance and if you don’t like our answer, then that’s on us. If the measure fails in August, then everything is pretty much done.”
Wagner admitted there are a few misconceptions floating around about the upcoming vote. First, he said, this election will increase taxes.
“That’s not the case,” Wagner said. “That would come later [if it's passed].”
Also, the notion of the bus service is being left in the dust. In reality, he added, the KCATA has been at the table with city officials on how to better integrate systems. Currently, there are discussions on how the Independence Avenue line can interact with the KCATA’s systems with the hope of solving some of their problems, as well.
“They know in other areas of the country with light rail and streetcars, they still have busses,” Wagner said. “It’s all part of a system. We’re working together on what that system will look like.”
Admittedly, Wagner added, the measure can be hard to follow. But, the overall goal is to add an investment opportunity to the city in a way it’s never seen before. Since the start of the streetcar downtown, the city has had upwards of $750 million in new investement due partially to the streetcar, or the belief it is coming. Of that, he continued, there’s about $250 million invested because the streetcar passed. What the city is seeing is developments coming they weren’t seeing before.
“It has a proven ability to draw investment and private development into an area,” Wagner said. “At the end of the day, what will provide the biggest economic bump along these routes, specifically Independence Avenue. What’s going to generate investment and interest in the Northeast area?”
For more information about the Phase II TDD, registered voters can visit the frequently asked questions page on www.connect-kc.com or www.nextrailkc.com.