City wants state sales tax money for streetcars

File photo. Construction in preparation for the downtown streetcar route.

File photo. Construction in preparation for the downtown streetcar route.

Two proposed sales tax increases could in effect be one if they dance together, city officials say.

On Aug. 5, voters statewide will decide whether to approve a ¾ cent sales tax for transportation needs.

The same day, voters in a large swath of Kansas City south of the river will be asked to approve a transportation district for the proposed eight-mile streetcar extension. If that passes, they will be asked in November to approve a one-cent sales tax for it.

That could lead to a total 1¾ cent sales tax hike in the city transportation district area – or maybe not.

The city is asking the Missouri Department of Transportation for $3 million a year from its tax – if it passes – to help fund the streetcar district. That would allow collection of only a total of one-cent additional sales tax in the new streetcar district – if it passes – instead of the 1¾ cent increase.

The existing downtown streetcar transportation district would merge with the new district if voters approve it, and the streetcar sales tax would remain 1 cent there as well.

The state sales tax would only last for 10 years and after that the city would collect its own entire one-cent sales tax.

John P. McGurk, chief of staff for Mayor Sly James, on Wednesday told the city council finance committee that he believed MoDOT would approve the city request.

The Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission will decide the matter for MoDOT at a July 9 meeting, he said.

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