City hopes to end streetcar lawsuit quickly

Photo courtesy Regional Transit Alliance.

Kansas City contends a lawsuit challenging the legality of the streetcar vote should be quickly dismissed.

The city Downtown Streetcar Transportation Development District filed for the dismissal and expedited action on Friday in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Downtown business owners Sue Anne Burke and Stretch/Jeffrey Rumaner sued last month contending the vote that allows a 1-cent sales tax and higher special property tax assessments within the Downtown district was unconstitutional.

They contend it amounts to taxation without representation because it did not allow voting by those who own property there but do not reside there. They also say the sales tax amounts to improper “stacking” because such transportation districts are only allowed up to a 1-cent tax. The business owners note that a separate 1-cent tax is already in place for the Power and Light district, which is within the streetcar district.

Streetcar district lawyers say the lawsuit is an election challenge that was filed too late under state law.

They also note that Jackson County Circuit Judge Charles Atwell ruled in April that the election was proper. Challenges should have been made then, the district lawyers say.

“But they chose to file nothing,” the Friday filing states, and launched an “ambush” after the election.

Time is critical, district lawyers say, because the lawsuit is holding up bonds needed for the $100 million project.

As of Monday, Judge Peggy Stevens McGraw had a hearing scheduled on the lawsuit on May 20.

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