The Kansas City Council on Thursday gave the green light to preparations for a streetcar funding district that would encompass much of Kansas City south of the Missouri River.
If voters approve the new funding district, it will help pay for 8 to 10 more miles of streetcar extensions. The taxing district would run from State Line Road to Interstate 435 and from the Missouri River generally to 85th Street. The city is contemplating a 1-cent sales tax increase within the district, plus property tax assessments close to the streetcar lines.
Voters would have to approve the new district in an August election and the actual tax increases in a November election. The local funding would be part of a financing package that would include at least 50 percent federal funding. The local taxes would not take effect unless matching federal funds were also committed to the streetcar expansion, which probably wouldn’t occur for several years.
Mayor Sly James said his meeting Wednesday with federal transportation officials in Washington, D.C., went very well and they were impressed with Kansas City’s progress. But he said the process is very competitive and several other cities are also lobbying aggressively for federal streetcar funds.
Unless Kansas City has its local funding mechanism in place in November, James said, it will have no chance of getting federal funding in a timely way to expand the 2-mile streetcar starter route.