Councilman Lucas responds to Northeast News G.O. Bond editorial

Northeast News

January 19, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – As the wide-ranging debate regarding the proposed $800 million General Obligation Bond ballot language (and accompanying resolution) continues today at City Hall, it seems apt to post, in full, the following letter to the editor sent to the Northeast News, penned by 3rd District Councilman Quinton Lucas.

Lucas is writing in response to an editorial published this week in the Northeast News, entitled ‘Lucas’s Double Standard.’ Below is the full letter to the editor, which was sent on the afternoon of Wednesday, January 18, ahead of the Jan. 19 debates at City Hall. Thanks to Councilman Lucas for the engagement.

Without further ado:

I must admit I feel it is more than a little disingenuous to characterize my alternative plan for the city’s proposed general obligation bond as an attempt to “punish the museum.” I support increased funding for the Kansas City Museum in the city’s annual budget and its ongoing renovation given its importance to the neighborhood, the Historic Northeast, and our city overall. If the public facilities expenditures under the bond were limited to the museum and the animal shelter, I would not have the same level of discomfort I currently hold with the bond. Unfortunately, Resolution 160951 (the companion legislation to the GO bond) lists not only those two facilities, it includes renovation of a number of other public facilities such as the Line Creek Community Center Ice Arena, a replacement building for a parks facility maintenance division, substantial renovation of a multistory city-owned office building in my home Third District, exterior improvements at City Hall, and prioritization of ADA improvements at a number of already well- (or partially outside-) funded city-owned assets such as Starlight Theater, the Music Hall, and Museums at 18th & Vine. I have no doubt that each item listed is an important one, but I question whether they all need to be addressed with this proposed tax increase.
My view of the bond is that we are asking voters to fund emergency needs of the city that cannot be supported through taxpayers’ already significant tax payments each year. When we list a plethora of building projects with no real connection to each other then I fear we stand subject to fair accusations that we lack a responsible and specific plan for how the tax increase will address and cure emergency needs that challenge the quality of life in Northeast Kansas City and beyond. I do not feel comfortable asking you and your neighbors to pay us more each year just so that we can address a backlog. I think you expect us to ask for a tax increase so that we can fix problems that have no other funding source, help rebuild communities and not just update offices, and help us avoid significant future expenses to the taxpayers. Regardless of what we do with the bond, I will continue to work to protect taxpayers and build a strong quality of life for all Kansas Citians, just as we did when we reduced proposed initial 18th and Vine funding by $21 million this fall.

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