Nobody wanted Kansas City’s two sales tax ballot questions to pass Tuesday night, and they didn’t.
The measures failed overwhelmingly after both the City Council and longtime light-rail activist Clay Chastain came out against them.
Question 1 sought a quarter-cent sales tax increase for 25 years for capital improvements. It failed 71 percent to 29 percent, with all precincts reporting in unofficial returns.
Question 2 sought an eighth-cent sales tax increase for 25 years for public transportation. It failed 70 percent to 30 percent.
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The questions were the result of a petition initiative that Chastain launched in 2011. He gathered about 4,000 signatures to seek voter approval for the tax increases to help pay for a massive light rail, streetcar and commuter rail system.
But the City Council declined to put the plan before voters, saying it wouldn’t raise nearly enough money to pay for the project. After a three-year court battle, the Missouri Supreme Court found that the only language that had to go on the ballot were the tax questions — without saying what the money was for. So the resulting language was vague and didn’t describe Chastain’s light-rail plan.
Chastain said he couldn’t support giving the city a blank check to spend however it wished.
After the City Council approved the ballot language, Richard Tolbert, a supporter of Chastain’s, filed a lawsuit urging a judge to order the council to adopt a resolution pledging that the money would be used solely for light rail. But Friday, Jackson County Circuit Judge Justine Del Muro dismissed Tolbert’s lawsuit after a brief court hearing.