Government & Politics

June 23, 2014

KC says Clay Chastain ballot initiative should mention taxes, not light rail

Kansas City officials have recommended language for Clay Chastain’s ballot initiative that just mentions the proposed tax increases and not Chastain’s grand light rail plan.

Kansas City officials recommended language Monday for Clay Chastain’s ballot initiative that only mentions the proposed tax increases and not Chastain’s grand light rail plan.

The city attorney’s office said it was recommending two questions for the November ballot: One seeking voter approval for a 1/4-cent sales tax increase for capital improvements for 25 years, and one proposing a 1/8-cent sales tax increase for transportation, again for 25 years.

Those two taxes were part of Chastain’s 2011 petition initiative, and he envisioned the local money would help build a massive, citywide system including light rail, commuter rail and streetcars.

But the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in February that Chastain’s proposal, as written, simply sought voter approval for the two taxes and did not require that the funds be spent as Chastain had outlined. So the city reiterated in its filing to Jackson County Circuit Judge Sandra Midkiff that it doesn’t have to put Chastain’s plan before voters.

“In light of the Missouri Supreme Court’s opinion, it is indisputable that while Defendants (Chastain and his supporters) thought they wrote a light rail ordinance, their ordinance simply enacts two taxes and does not require the construction of any specific project,” the city’s filing said Monday.

Chastain responded in a statement that the city is acting in bad faith towards the public by not even including the words “light rail” in its ballot language and is trying to kill the initiative.

He said he and his attorney will respond with their own proposal to Midkiff on proper ballot language later this week.

To reach Lynn Horsley, call 816-226-2058 or send email to

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