By Abby Cambiano
On August 8, 2017, registered voters in Kansas City will be able to participate in a special election with two separate questions concerning the expansion of the streetcar that currently runs from Union Station to the River Market.
Earlier this year, the city held a mail-in election for residents living between State Line Road and Campbell Street and between the Missouri River and 53rd Street. Voters had to apply for a mail-in ballot between April 5 and the 5 p.m. deadline on May 23. This area includes about 30,000 active registered voters, and by the May 23 deadline, 5,752 eligible voters had requested ballots.
Ballots were mailed on June 20, and are due back August 1. However, the process left some Kansas City residents asking if it was enough.
The August 8 special election Question 1 language reads, “Shall the City of Kansas City prohibit any and all City officers, agents and employees from causing the planning for, construction, preparation for construction, preparation of land, or purchase of land if connected to the expansion of the streetcar system or any new fixed rail transit system, without first gaining voter approval, and establish a penalty of up to $1,000 a day for noncompliance?”
By “gaining voter approval,” that includes active register voters in all of Kansas City, Missouri, not just those living in close proximity to the streetcar line. Kansas City Streetcar Authority and Kansas City Area Transportation Authority have already selected a team “led by HDR to conduct a KC Streetcar Southern Extension study to assess multi-modal transportation needs.” The proposed expansion would run from Union Station to UMKC at 51st Street.
Question 2 concerns two 25-year sales taxes; if passed both begin January 1, 2018.
The first proposed sales tax is 1/8 cent to be added to the transportation sales tax. The second is a 1/4 cent sales tax to be added to the capital improvement sales tax, solely to raise money “all for the purpose of constructing, maintaining and operating one or more extensions to the streetcar system.”
Those extensions may include a fleet of electric buses to transport people to and from the light rail system stations and from a northern station to KCI, from the Kansas City Zoo to the new Cerner Campus, and from the Country Club Plaza to Brookside and south, or as much as can be constructed, maintained and operated with proceeds of the tax, including necessary bridges and other infrastructure, the language reads.
Question 3 on the ballot concerns raising minimum wage. It asks, “Shall the City of Kansas City enact now a municipal minimum wage of $10.00 per hour on August 24, 2017, and increased annually by $1.25 per hour beginning September 1, 2019, to reach $15.00 per hour in 2022?”
Residents can check their status at