There are a couple of old adages that this NewsDog uses that would apply to last week’s passing of an ordinance by the City Council that directs the city manager to find roughly $8 million in funding that would go to RideKC and essentially create free bus service in the city of Kansas City.
Well, this NewsDog is here to say there’s no free lunch. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost anything.
The elephant in the room nobody is talking about is where the money will come from.
This critically-thinking NewsDog isn’t naive enough to believe that some magical pile of cash is going to fall from the sky.
You can certainly bet the city will sell it like it’s the greatest thing since Teflon hit meatloaf pans, which is why we need this now!
This keen-eyed pooch wants to know what city service or services will be cut in order to provide this “free” service.
Public Works? Solid Waste? Neighborhood and Housing Services? Parks and Recreation?
In conversations with representatives from these departments, all indicate their budgets are already tighter than hen’s teeth.
The water department might be a good place to start, given the amount of heavy equipment and manpower they dispatch to replace a broken storm drain cover.
The Dog has noted before about water department workers all standing around a hole gettin’ union scale while the one dude in the hole is doin’ all the heavy lifting.
That, however, is a story for another day.
A quick perusal of the city’s urban core and its clear to see that $8 million would go a long way in repairing or upgrading a variety of basic infrastructure needs.
There are hundreds of lane miles of sub-standard roadway, crumbling sidewalks and curbs as well as countless vacant lots heaped with trash and garbage that directly and negatively impact residents’ quality of life on a daily basis.
Will a new transit tax be put on the ballot in order to fund this project?
The tax base in Kansas City is already at an all time high, as noted recently by the editorial board of The Star when the question was asked if there was a tax Kansas City residents didn’t like.
As we’ve noted before, the tax rate in the city’s entertainment districts is already bumping 11% before gratuity is added.
How much more in taxes can city residents bear before the proverbial cash faucet is turned off at the source?
Here’s the bottom line: this move is nothing more than a warm fuzzy that would allow the Mayor and City Council the opportunity to feel good about themselves.
Just remember as this ordinance makes its way through the legislative process and the city puts the heavy spin on why this is so necessary, that this money is coming from somewhere, likely your back pocket.
Like the old saying goes, there’s no free lunch.