Downtown business owners sue city over streetcar tax

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Two Kansas City business owners are suing the city over streetcar taxes. They claim the taxes exceed the maximum Missouri allows for a Transportation Development District.

STRETCH, artist and owner of Grinders and Grinders West, is one of the plaintiffs. Sue Burke, another plaintiff, owns Kansas City Air Filter in the River Market. 

The suit alleges that the 1 percent sales tax for the streetcar TDD -- when added to the taxes they already pay for development of a TDD for the Power and Light District -- exceeds tax limits set by the state.

READ | Streetcar lawsuit: http://tinyurl.com/a68ltje

Burke called the election for the TDD a charade. Burke, a Kansas City resident, did not get a vote.

"I did not get a vote or a say-so in something that affects me personally and business-wise and that is very wrong," said Burke. "That's not American. That is voter suppression."

Only residents within the district were allowed to vote, leaving many property owners without a say.

The plaintiff's attorney, Mark Bredemeier, calls it taxation without representation.

Recently, nonprofits and churches within the district discovered they may be subject to an annual assessment based on their property values, despite being exempt from annual property tax. St. Mary's Episcopal Church at 13th and Holmes will likely be billed $4,000 per year to pay for the TDD, which funds the streetcar development.

Construction for the 2-mile streetcar line is set to begin in March and should be completed by 2015.

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