KC transit alliance rips proposed medical research tax increase

08/27/2013 5:46 PM

08/27/2013 5:46 PM

Troubles are mounting for the proposed $800 million sales tax increase for medical research in Jackson County.

On Sunday, the

Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance

ripped into the proposed half-cent sales tax, which would last 20 years and raise $40 million annually.

Today, the Jackson County Legislature is poised to put the tax on the ballot, after pressure from the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City to rush the issue to the Nov. 5 ballot. Tuesday is the deadline for that action.

The rush irritates the alliance, partly because it has supported a long process to place a commuter rail plan before voters, something that would probably require funding from a large, a one-cent sales tax increase. But that effort was put on hold earlier this year (creating the opening on the ballot for the medical research tax) because of disagreements between two major railroads on where the commuter line could run.

Here’s part of the press release from the alliance and Chairman Kite Singleton:

“This new tax proposal fails to recognize the importance of what Jackson County has been doing over the past three years. Mike Sanders’ energetic regional transit proposal is in a time-out. This is not a time to redirect our community’s focus to another interest. How can we expect to attract these talented young health care researchers to a town that won’t invest in the kinds of urban amenities that these people will demand?

“The streetcar success is a signal event that ends decades of failed efforts to reach for an antidote to suburban sprawl and urban disinvestment in the Kansas City Region.”

“Last year the cities of Jackson County invested over $600,000 in a regional rail promotional campaign because their leaders recognized the value of this investment. Now this complex railroad discussion needs time to mature and find an answer. To propose that these cities give up their investment for one that should be borne by the health care interests that will benefit from it is a monumental mistake.”

The opposition from the transit alliance might signal it’s all right for other groups to oppose the tax.

Or, organizations may bide their time to find out more about the tax, which so far has been poorly explained by its supporters.

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