By Joe Jarosz
Northeast News
July 23, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – The Port Authority of Kansas City, Mo., is ready for an improvement.

At last week’s Kansas City City Council meeting, city officials unanimously approved an ordinance that would allow the city attorney to execute and file any necessary documents to establish a Port Authority Port Improvement District. The PID would assess a one percent sales and use tax and property tax at a rate and duration to be determined and set forth in the petition to establish the PID upon the Berkley Riverfront property for the purposes of generating revenue to pay for the cost of infrastructure required to facilitate the development of the Berkley Riverfront property. The PID is the first in Missouri.

Councilman Ed Ford, also the chair of the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee, said the ordinance allows the Port Authority, which owns the Riverfront property along the Missouri River and lying west of the Christopher S. Bond Bridge, to plan for development along the riverfront. He added, the Port Authority’s planned development of that property will require the construction of certain infrastructure and supportive facilities that it has determined should be funded, in part, by a PID.

Councilwoman Jan Marcason, who sponsored the ordinance, said she and councilman Jim Glover are excited about the possibility of development along the riverfront.

“In a holistic sense, we’re recovering the residential base in the city,” Glover told the council. “People are coming back [to live in the city] and developers are coming to us knowing that people want to live in the city. We need to keep on keeping on to bring that population back.”

A second ordinance related to the PID was slightly changed by the committee before it was placed on the council docket. Before the change, the ordinance read: “Authorizing the Director of City Development to execute and deliver a Cooperative Agreement with the Port Authority of Kansas City, Missouri, for the purposes of providing for the future amendment of the Riverfront lease to extend its term and allocate certain lease revenues towards the payment of costs associated with the single-point urban interchange and other infrastructure and supportive facilities to be constructed; authorizing the City Manager to execute the contemplated amendment to the Riverfront lease without further City Council approval; and authorizing the City Attorney to execute and file such documents as may be required to establish a port improvement district.”

However, after some discussion, the committee advanced the ordinance to the city council, striking the line about the city manager executing decisions without city council approval. Port Authority officials Michael M. Collins, President & CEO, and Mark R. Coulter, Vice President, General Counsel, attended the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee to answer any questions committee members had about the ordinances.

Committee member and councilman John Sharp objected to the idea of city manager Troy Schulte making any decisions without the city council knowing. Collins advised the committee to keep that line because it would help the Port Authority make decisions faster. If the city council is involved, he added, they would have to wait at least a week before some items could be approved.

“The general consensus of the committee is to change that part of the ordinance,” Ed Ford, chair of the committee, said.

In a statement after the city council’s decisions, Marissa Cleaver Wamble, vice president of corporate communications, said the PID will go toward securing the future success of the Berkley River development and will help sustain Berkley Riverfront Park.

“The money collected will be used for additional development as well as maintenance,” Wamble said. “It will ensure that the riverfront stays viable and attractive. The implementation of the PID will continue the commitment made by the Port Authority to bring urban river life to the doorstep of Kansas City.”