Judge rebuffs Chastain’s plea to put light rail plan on KC ballot

KC doesn’t have to put proposal to a vote, she says, because the initiative failed to provide enough funding.

03/09/2012 11:26 PM

05/16/2014 6:12 PM

A Jackson County judge ruled Friday that Kansas City does not have to place Clay Chastain’s latest light-rail proposal before voters.

Circuit Judge Sandra Midkiff said Chastain’s petition initiative failed to provide new revenue sufficient to cover the required city funds for the project, and thus was unconstitutional.

Chastain, a longtime light-rail advocate who used to live in Kansas City but now lives in Virginia, vowed to appeal.

Chastain gathered enough petition signatures last year for a city ballot. His proposal sought a 3/8-cent sales tax increase for 25 years to pay part of the costs of a 22-mile light-rail line, a 19-mile commuter-rail line and an 81/2-mile streetcar line.

But the City Council declined to place the plan on an election ballot, saying it violated the Missouri Constitution by failing to provide full funding for the construction as mandated by the ordinance.

Midkiff agreed, and said the city was justified in refusing to place the measure before voters.

She said the proposed sales tax only partly funded the transportation system and counted on federal funds even though the requirements for those federal funds had not been met.

In a telephone interview from Virginia, Chastain argued Friday that the measure still should go before voters.

“The ideal of ‘We the People’ was subdued by a strong-armed government acting in concert with a misguided judge,” he said.

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