The Kansas City Council is about to act on a measure that will finally ask voters to approve two tax increases that activist Clay Chastain had proposed to fund an ambitious transit system centered on light rail.
Council members should do the right thing and approve ballot language specifying what the taxes are intended to pay for.
Chastain gathered enough petition signatures in 2011 to go to voters, but the council refused to place his initiative on the ballot, saying it was irredeemably flawed. Courts eventually said the proposed tax increases must be placed before voters, but the council wasn’t required to elaborate on what the money would be used for. The minimalist approach appears to be the council’s plan and could be enacted as early as today.
In fact, should the 1/4-cent and 1/8-cent sales taxes pass, the city wouldn’t legally be obligated to use the money for what Chastain has proposed, according to the courts.
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But that would be a breach of faith. Citizens understood in 2011 that they were signing petitions for one of Chastain’s light rail plans. Both the ballot language and the city’s actions should reflect that. Give voters complete information and trust them to get it right.