Take the next step to expand KC streetcar system on Aug. 5

07/28/2014 6:24 PM

07/28/2014 6:24 PM

Voting “yes” on Question A next Tuesday is the best way to continue moving toward a final decision on whether to expand Kansas City’s downtown streetcar line.

Critics want to stop this debate in its tracks. They don’t want voters in a portion of the city south of the river to create a transportation development district, which is all Question A does.

It does not raise taxes. That can only be done through a second election in November. But to get to that point, the district needs to be formed first.

There’s no harm in doing that. In fact, it would give Kansas Citians three more months to evaluate the plan to build eight more miles of track down Main Street and east along Independence Avenue and Linwood Boulevard. The plan also would add a bus rapid transit line on Prospect Avenue.

The total cost would be more than $500 million, but city officials have said they will not put in place any sales tax that could be endorsed in November until funds from the federal government or other sources can be found to cover about half the project’s total cost.

Saying “yes” to Question A also would allow Kansas Citians to know whether other taxpayers are going to help finance the streetcar expansion.

That’s because Amendment 7, a statewide three-quarter cent sales tax increase, is also on the Aug. 5 ballot. If approved, it would provide millions of dollars for the new transit system. That would reduce the amount of sales tax increase to be sought in November within the development district.

Opponents are using scare tactics about costs and other issues to try to kill the district approval. That’s unfortunate. The approval of Question A simply gives voters a future opportunity to decide the merits of expanding the streetcar line.

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