A measure on the Aug. 5 ballot for Kansas City residents living south of the Missouri River will help decide if the downtown streetcar will expand beyond its current line.
Kansas City Question A seeks to create a larger transportation development district that would allow Kansas Citians the chance to vote for streetcar and bus expansion taxes in the November election.
The proposed district is bounded north by the river, west by State Line Road, east by I-435, and south by the University of Missouri - Kansas City.
Shall a transportation development district, to be known as the "Kansas City Urban Rail Transportation Development District" (the "District"), be organized in that part of Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri generally bounded by the Missouri River in the north, State Line Road on the west, Interstate 435 on the east (but including an area east of Interstate 435 to incorporate Kauffman and Arrowhead Stadiums) and approximately 51st Street on the southwest and Gregory Boulevard on the southeast (but the specific legal description below will control), for the purpose of developing the transportation project (the "Project") operating with the boundaries of, or serving and benefiting, the proposed District and consisting of the two subprojects described below, each of which subprojects are approved, and to have the power to fund the proposed Project upon separate voter approval by any or all of the following methods in combination, each of which are, subject to approval at one or more future elections, approved as potential funding methods?
What it means:
Kansas City residents south of the Missouri River and north of Gregory Boulevard will vote to create an expanded transportation development district, giving them the chance to vote for local tax increases for streetcar and bus line expansion in the November election.
Proponents say that if Kansas City Question A passes, it will pave the way for an expanded street car system that will reintroduce Kansas City as a modern Midwestern city.
Steve Glorioso, political consultant for ConnectKC, says that approving Question A will also spur Kansas City into further economic growth while staying relatively fiscally responsible.
"It has been proven in all of our peer cities in the Midwest, whether it's Minneapolis, Denver, St. Louis, or Oklahoma City, that fixed-rail streetcars will drive economic development," Glorioso said. "This is a conservative approach to do this step by step."
Opponents say that the streetcar is already fiscally dangerous for Kansas City. Dan Coffey, founder of Citizens for Responsible Government, worries that Question A will lead to tax increases that will further burden the urban core.
"The initial vote on Tuesday is for nothing more than to set up the transportation development district" Coffey said. "In doing that, they'll set up taxes for the poorest people in the city."
What it means for Kansas City:
If voters approve Question A, proposed expansions to the downtown streetcar would be one step closer to reality. The expansions would not only extend the streetcar line further south down to UMKC's campus, but it would also add lines on Independence Avenue and Linwood Boulevard.
An extended MAX bus line is also proposed for Prospect Avenue from downtown to 75th Street.
Successful passage of Question A would not increase taxes or approve expansion immediately. It would merely allows citizens to vote on funding the expansions three months down the line.
If you'd like to hear more about Kansas City Question A, you can listen to Monday's Up to Date with Brian Ellison.