Streetcar expansion funding moves forward

Streetcar expansion funding district

All of Midtown would be included in a transportation development district to fund a streetcar expansion. View a larger map at the end of the story.

A city council joint committee on Thursday approved a streetcar expansion funding proposal to create a transportation district for phase two of city streetcars.

It sets the stage for a one cent sales tax across Midtown and special property assessments along streetcar lines, if voters approve the district and federal funding can be secured.

The proposal passed by the finance and transportation committees goes to the full city council for final approval next Thursday.

If approved, it would start a court process expected to lead to a vote in August.

That vote could create the district roughly from the Missouri River to 85th Street and from State Line to Highway 435.

Officials are now studying three possible extensions to the two-mile streetcar line being built downtown. The extensions run down Main Street, possibly as far as 85th Street, with spurs running off to the east on Independence Avenue and on either Linwood or 31st Street.

The district would fund only part of the project but is the first step in putting together the needed “funding cocktail,” said Doug Stone, an attorney working with the city on the project.

If voters in the district approve its creation in August, they would vote again later on city tax increases for the extension. If federal funds or others financing does not come through, the city taxes would not start.

Streetcar expansion funding: sales tax and special assessment on property

If the taxes are approved and begin, people would pay one cent more on purchases in the district (excluding those for vehicles and utilities). And people within one-half mile on either side of where streetcars run would pay special assessment property taxes.

Those in the existing downtown streetcar transportation district would not pay extra taxes for phase two.

Stone reported to council members that residential property owners would pay $133 more on $100,000 in market value. Commercial property owners would pay $1,536 for every $1 million in market value.

For non-profits, the first $300,000 in market value would be exempt so they would pay $896 on $1 million in market value.

The plan is to get the district approved, apply for federal funding early next year and if that comes through to do construction from 2018 to 2020.

Supporters said it is important to lock in federal funding before the next presidential election.

Councilman Jim Glover said, “Usually city hall is accused of moving too slow and not seizing the initiative – this is a time to seize the initiative.”

Stone said the extent of federal and other outside funding will determine how far the streetcars will run on the extension routes.

Councilwoman Cindy Circo said it is time for the state legislature to step forward and help with city streetcar funding.

(Disclosure: The Midtown KC Post’s Mary Jo Draper is on the NextRail KC project team).

Kansas City streetcar expansion funding map

One Comment

  1. Joseph LaCicero says:

    Will there be a guarantee that property taxes will never increase? And why bring this proposal when the city has a bus line? Thanks for considering my question.

    JM LaCicero

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