Once again over the weekend areas of this Cowtown were brought to a complete standstill thanks to an aging infrastructure that couldn’t stand up to a day of late summer thunderstorms. The usual locations – Chouteau and Belmont, Truman and Indiana, parts of Westport and Southwest Boulevard – all under up to four feet of water because of an aging and habitually clogged storm sewer system that city government won’t address properly. Instead we get increased taxes in a gerrymandered Transportation Development District (TDD) in order to advance a publicly subsidized mode of transportation that went out in the late 1950s.
This time around toy train street car advocates propose an extension from Crown Center, where the streetcar terminates currently, to a point near 51st street and Oak on the UMKC campus. Of the roughly 30,000 people living in the newly proposed TDD, only 3600 or so people went to the trouble to cast a ballot, get it notarized and returned to the Jackson County Circuit Court. It was an arduous process designed by lawyers to be as difficult as possible in order to restrict voting. While the election process may be in accordance with current Missouri Law that governs the formation and operation of Transportation Development Districts, this News-dog thinks it’s high time for a state review of this highly questionable and easily (and often) rigged process.
As recently as May, State Auditor Nicole Galloway put the smack down on the city of Harrisonville, Missouri with a “Poor” rating for the mismanagement of tax dollars. Specifically for layering TDD’s and TIF’s on top of each other in order to secure additional tax revenue from citizens who will ultimately be on the hook for close to $30-million in tax financed projects that are currently failing to meet expectations. The fun doesn’t end there, sadly. According to Galloway, over 90% of Missouri’s TDD’s were formed by private developers in order to advance projects that favored members of that TDD’s Board of Directors. Outrageously, this process requires no notification to taxpayers of any sort of tax increase. This is taxation without representation, pure and simple. While the State Auditor promised an overhaul of this legal thievery in April, no time remained in the legislative session to address the issue – leaving developers free to ramrod highly questionable projects like this streetcar extension down the throats of unwilling and largely unknowing taxpayers. How’s that streetcar working out for ya now?