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KCMO Bus Tax Renewal on November Ballot

Bowing to public pressure to avoid a revenue gap, the newly-seated City Council advanced the 3/8-cent citywide sales tax that supports bus service to the November 2023 ballot.

The original ballot language submitted by the Mayor’s office did not specify KCATA as the recipient or “bus” as the supported mode. Advocates asserted that there was no reason to dilute the language since there’s one regional provider for traditional bus service and it’s a bi-state government entity. Some feared redirection of funds for traditional bus service to other modes like streetcar or light rail, which the Mayor and City Manager have shown interest in with the impending World Cup in 2026.

If approved, the tax would continue for another 10 years. The last renewal was for 15 years, and was initially approved in 2003 for five years.

Given rising labor costs, it’s unlikely any growth in KCMO sales tax revenue would lead to expanded service. Our focus remains on regional funding to grow transit service — to increase access to jobs and address our changing climate.

Stay tuned here for information about how to support the renewal.

KCMO Transit Sales Tax Delayed

The City Council of Kansas City has run out the clock on putting a renewal of the 3/8-cent sales tax on the November ballot. This puts the revenue from the sales tax at risk since the next available election in April 2024 would occur shortly after the tax expires on March 31, 2024, leading to a potential gap in revenue that currently supports almost half of the city’s existing bus service.

The other transit sales tax (1/2-cent) was authorized by the Missouri Legislature and no longer has a sunset. A portion of the 1/2-cent tax is dedicated by law to KCATA’s capital needs (buses, facilities), with another portion being directed to the streetcar’s Transportation Development District.

Ordinance 230446 currently states that the target election date for the 3/8-cent renewal is August 8, 2023, which has obviously passed as of this posting. The deadline for the November 2023 ballot is August 29, 2023. Since the ordinance does not appear on this week’s Transportation Infrastructure and Operations committee meeting agenda, there will not be sufficient time to conduct a typical TIO hearing (the only opportunity for formal public comment), advance the ordinance to full council, and get full council approval before August 29. The Mayor and Council do have options to expedite ordinances, but there’s no indication that’s in the plan.

On top of all this, the TIO commitee has new leadership with the new Council that will be seated on August 1, 2023. Contact new TIO Chair Kevin O’Neill and Vice Chair Melissa Robinson here:

Chair David Johnson appears on KMBC to discuss regional funding and cooperation

KCRTA Chair David Johnson appeared on Sunday’s episode of KMBC’s “Heart of the Matter” public affairs program to discuss current governance and funding challenges in the Northland that led to changes with bus service in Gladstone. Watch here:

Welcome, new board members!

We’ve welcomed several new board members this year from all across the metro, including business and labor leaders and elected officials.

Join us for our 2022 Annual Meeting on the Main Street Extension route

Join us at a cozy spot along the future Main Street streetcar extension to talk the future of transit in KC, the next steps for KCRTA, and to recognize our Transit Advocate of the Year.

RSVP here:

Voters approve Main Street extension funding

Voters in the newly-formed Main Street Rail Transportation Development District (TDD) approved the local funding for the Main Street extension of the streetcar to UMKC. Next steps are to apply for federal funding and to complete design and construction. The extension may open as early as 2023.

KC Election Board –
KC Star –
KC Business Journal –

Streetcar TDD lawsuit dismissed

A Jackson County judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed in September 2017 claiming the mail-in election process was unconstitutional. KCRTA represented the TDD petitioners, who were individually named as defendants.

The final election for the Main Street Rail Transportation Development District is in progress now, with mail-in ballots due to the Circuit Court Administrator by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12. Two previous elections formed the district itself and elected an at-large board of directors.

Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging streetcar vote – Kansas City Business Journal

Council addresses legal flaws in voter-approved Question 1

The City Council voted January 18 to amend a petition initiative restricting streetcar expansion activities that was narrowly approved in August 2017.

“Question 1” prevented city staff and elected officials from planning — or even talking about — streetcar expansion unless a separate vote was held citywide. Planning is a core city function that is authorized in the City Charter. A petition initiative cannot restrict Charter functions. In addition to that flaw, Question 1 also instituted a $1,000 fine per occurrence, which introduced clear constitutional issues that the Council had to address to avoid future litigation that might throw out the entire question.

KCRTA opposed Question 1 on these legal grounds, as well as the fact that it was put forth by streetcar opponents. Wording of the ballot language was intentionally vague and meant to restrict expansion entirely, not just ensure a more democratic process. If the city were to propose a citywide election for streetcar expansion, they would have to plan for that in advance (which Question 1 clearly prohibited).

The approved ordinance is a compromise, allowing the city to participate in planning while respecting the will of the voters that future expansion would be put to a citywide vote first. This also allows the Riverfront and Main Street extensions — which were well underway prior to August 2017 — to proceed as planned.

We thank the Councilmember who voted for the ordinance to amend:

– Mayor Sly James
– Lee Barnes
– Alissia Canady
– Dan Fowler
– Jolie Justus
– Quinton Lucas
– Kevin McManus
– Jermaine Reed
– Katheryn Shields
– Scott Wagner

We’d also like to thank the new Main Street Rail Transportation Development District, South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, South KC Alliance, Downtown Council, Kansas City Streetcar Authority, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, and PortKC for their testimony.

TDD lawsuit officially transferred to Jackson County

Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetem has officially transferred the Transportation Development District (TDD) lawsuit to Jackson County on Dec. 11, where the district has continuing jurisdiction.

The lawsuit was filed Sept. 5 by plaintiffs claiming the mail-in election held earlier this year was unconstitutional. All of the plaintiffs were able to vote in the mail-in election, which is allowed by the state’s TDD Act. The lawsuit named all 64 of the district’s proponents, as well the Missouri Secretary of State.

70% of voters in the new TDD — which will help fund the Main Street streetcar extension — approved the district’s formation in August. In October, the same district elected seven pro-streetcar candidates to a board of directors that will govern the new district. The new TDD Chair is former Kansas City Councilwoman Jan Marcason.

The Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance funded the district’s formation costs, but the elected TDD Board of Directors is now overseeing the rest of the process (except for this lawsuit).