Your questions about the proposed KC streetcar expansion answered

Posted at 9:16 PM, May 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-18 10:11:14-04

The mail-in ballot process for the proposed KC Streetcar expansion is different than most elections. 

PREVIOUS STORY: Churches say they shouldn't have to pay special assessment for streetcar 

First, people who live in the transportation development district or TDD that will be impacted have to request a ballot. Then they have to show proof of voter registration, get their form notarized and mail it to the county.

Sherry DeJanes with Smart KC said, "I think the whole process is completely onerous." DeJanes explained her group is against the expansion and, "We support transit that actually transports people from where they live to where they work and where they play, not just where they're going to play and not just for a few."

We also talked to David Johnson, chairman of the Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance. Johnson told 41 Action News the expansion area was selected, "Because it's probably the highest rated corridor when it comes to ridership, economic development, residential and job density."

If it passes, a board of directors would be elected and later there would be a vote on the special tax assessments and additional one percent sales tax in the TDD. Johnson says for a $100,000 market value home, the assessment would come to $133 a year.

When it comes to the sales tax, DeJanes has a few issues.

"It is regressive in nature because it has a more severe impact on those who can least afford it," she said. "When you stack everything because of the TDD sales tax stacks on other TDD sales tax on top of CID taxes. In many of the areas that are going to be affected by the expansion, you're going to be 12 percent or higher especially if you go out to eat because you've got the two percent tourism and convention tax also."

Johnson countered, "One of the arguments I would make about this proposal is that it's balanced. You're taxing or assessing the people who would gain the most and then you're spreading something more general that would allow people from outside the district to contribute."

The city and streetcar authority have touted the success of the streetcar in its first year, with more than 2 million riders and $2 billion in development.

"It may have been good for development to a certain degree but that development would not have occurred except for the tax increment financing that's been granted and the tax abatements that have been granted," DeJanes fought back. 

Supporters are not deterred, because they believe early success of the streetcar has paved the road for a bright future.

Johnson said, "What the streetcar did downtown was it connected three pockets so the River/City Market area, downtown, Power and Light and the Crown Center/Crossroads area and made it all sort of one seamless space and we hope to see that for the areas between Crown Center/Union Station, Union Hill, Westport, Plaza and UMKC."

So far, out of close to 30,000 eligible voters, 3,249 have requested ballots for the election. The deadline to do so is May 23 at 5:00 p.m.

To get your ballot, click here.