Kansas City Council members, with a successful campaign for the new single terminal at KCI on the books, are turning their attention to other urgent business.
Like running for mayor.
Councilman Scott Taylor on Thursday unveiled a “Revive the East Side” initiative, a mix of tax abatements and new spending for the long-disadvantaged community. It is also an early shot across the bow at his council opponents in the 2019 race.
Taylor, at-large representative for south Kansas City’s Sixth District, told reporters at City Hall that other council members have had more than ample time to develop such a proposal.
“We have 12 council members...many that have served six years and newer members that have had over two years now and have had plenty of opportunity to introduce a comprehensive East Side package,” said Taylor, a second term member in the six-year category. “But I have not seen it and believe our clock is ticking as a city.”
Taylor’s comments drew a tart response from Third District at large Councilman Quinton Lucas, one of the council’s East Side representatives, who is considering a mayoral run.
“I take some umbrage at the comment that no one has done anything,” said Lucas, who cited legislation he sponsored to limit the largest tax abatements to economically distressed areas like the East Side.
Lucas noted that Taylor sits on the board of the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, a non-profit created to foster economic growth.
“But until launching his campaign for mayor (he) has never championed a single economic development project or initiative on Kansas City’s East Side. I welcome his new found interest in our community.”
Third District Councilman Jermaine Reed, an announced candidate, declined to comment. Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner and Councilwoman Jolie Justus have launched campaigns. Two others outside the council, Crossroads businessman Phil Glynn and lawyer Stephen Miller, have also announced.
Taylor said he has been heavily involved in economic growth efforts for other areas of the city during his tenure as chair of the council’s planning and zoning committee, including the Northland and south Kansas City.
“It is important that this growth continues for the benefit of the whole community,” Taylor said.
There are several city programs already targeting the East Side, including the newly approved 1/8th cent sales tax for the Prospect Corridor. Taylor said his proposal covers a much broader portion of the city, creating an “East Side Investment Zone” bounded by 4th Stret on the north, 95th Street on the south, Troost Avenue on the west and the eastern city limits. It would also include the Ruskin neighborhoods of South Kansas City.
His plan would add $10 million to the city’s existing home repair program that helps residents remain in their homes. It also calls for a series of tax abatements, including one for the earnings tax on salaries of newly hired employees in the area. Regulatory approvals would be streamlined for small developers.
Taylor said the ordinance, which he plans to introduce when the council returns from its Thanksgiving break, will likely be amended based on feedback from the council and the community.
“I’m open that,” he said. “I just want to start the discussion.”