Kansas City voters will make several important decisions Tuesday on borrowing money for infrastructure repairs, flood control, even a new animal shelter.
There’s a proposal to increase investment on the long-neglected East Side and another to reduce city penalties for marijuana possession.
The Star urges all Kansas Citians to vote. Here are our recommendations:
The GO bonds
We recommend a yes vote on Questions 1, 2 and 3. These separate questions are all part of the city’s ambitious infrastructure bond proposal.
Each will require a little more than 57 percent of the votes cast to pass. Each question is independent of the others.
▪ Question 1 calls for spending $600 million over the next 20 years for bridge, street and sidewalk repairs.
▪ Question 2 calls for spending $150 million on flood control projects.
▪ Question 3 calls for spending $50 million to provide part of the funding for a new animal shelter, as well as building upgrades so the city can comply with requirements under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Virtually everyone in Kansas City agrees on the need for infrastructure upgrades. The city’s street and bridges are in disrepair. Hundreds of miles of sidewalks are cracked and dangerous, and many homeowners lack the resources to pay for needed repairs.
Floods endanger neighborhoods and industrial areas alike. And the animal shelter is outdated and remote, a sore spot in the community for decades.
It will cost the typical homeowner an average of $100 a year over the next 20 years to pay for the bonds if all three questions pass. Opponents have criticized those increases as unnecessary.
We disagree. For little more than the cost of a fast-food meal a month, Kansas Citians can tackle a backlog of repairs that will only get worse if ignored.
The GO bond campaign has been misleading in laying out the cost of the bonds, which is disappointing. But its miscalculation should not distract voters from what’s really at stake: a chance to make Kansas City a better place to live.
The One City sales tax
We recommend a yes vote on Question 4, which would raise the sales tax by one-eighth of a cent for 10 years. It takes a simple majority to pass.
The money raised from the tax — about $100 million — would provide economic incentives and improvements along the Prospect Corridor. It would help residents in some of Kansas City’s poorest neighborhoods.
We believe safeguards are in place to protect against waste or abuse of funds. While we’re worried about the regressive nature of a sales tax, we think all Kansas Citians should join in efforts to bolster neighborhoods plagued by violence and a perpetual lack of investment.
We recommend a no vote on Question 5, which would reduce the city’s penalties for marijuana possession.
The proposal to limit pot penalties leaves too many questions unanswered and could cause complications without evidence of a serious need.
If changes are to be made to marijuana laws, they should be a result of study and public debate. And they should extend beyond the city’s borders.