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Who will pay for the new Kansas City Streetcar extension?

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Posted at 4:00 AM, Apr 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-06 11:49:20-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On Wednesday, leaders from Kansas City, Missouri, the KC Streetcar Authority and other agencies will officially break ground on the next leg of the streetcar.

The new streetcar line will extend south three and a half miles along Main Street from Union Station to the University of Missouri - Kansas City campus at 51st Street and Brookside Boulevard.

It will cost $351 million and take nearly three years to complete the project. That money will also allow the Streetcar Authority to purchase eight new streetcars to operate on the new line.

People riding the new streetcar extension upon its completion will not pay a fare to board. The streetcar line currently in operation around downtown is also fare-free.

In January 2021, the United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration awarded the Streetcar a grant for $174.1 million. FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jayne Williams said at the time, the grant was the largest federal, transit-related grant in Kansas City’s history.

Money raised through a special property assessment and sales tax will pay for the rest of the $351 million bill. That assessment and sales tax will also pay for future maintenance and operation costs related to the streetcar.

In 2017 and 2018, voters approved a series of initiatives to establish a Transportation Development District, elect board members, approve the assessment and approve the sales tax.

The assessment took effect July 1, 2021, and will be in place for 25 years.

Any property owner within roughly a third mile of the streetcar rail must pay the assessment (areas shaded in green and yellow on this map). The amount varies on the value of their property. Nonprofits and churches, which are often exempt from property taxes, must pay the assessment.

The sales tax will remain in place for 30 years from July 1, 2021. It adds 1% in sales tax on nearly any item sold within the district (areas shaded in green, yellow and white on this map).

Only people living in the district were able to cast ballots in the elections of 2017 and 2018, which led to a lawsuit challenging the legality of the process. A judge dismissed the lawsuit.

Voters approved a very similar system to pay for the KC Streetcar’s original starter line.