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New Kansas City sales tax needs people to decide how to use it. Interested?

Five things to know: Citywide eighth-cent sales tax on KC's April 4 ballot

Advocates for a citywide one-eighth-cent sales tax on Kansas City’s April 4 ballot want to spur economic development along Prospect Avenue, a central city stretch that has been deteriorating for decades.
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Advocates for a citywide one-eighth-cent sales tax on Kansas City’s April 4 ballot want to spur economic development along Prospect Avenue, a central city stretch that has been deteriorating for decades.

Kansas City voters in April approved a new citywide, one-eighth-cent sales tax to be used for redevelopment along the Prospect Avenue corridor.

Collection of the tax is to begin in October, but a crucial step is needed first: A five-member commission must be appointed to administer it.

The commissioners are required to review and recommend proposals that want to use tax receipts for economic development in the area bounded by Ninth Street on the north, Gregory Boulevard on the south, the Paseo on the west and Indiana Avenue on the east.

On Monday, the Kansas City Public Schools board of directors asked for applications from people interested in serving on the commission. The school district gets to appoint one of the five commissioners.

The city of Kansas City gets to appoint three members, and Jackson County gets to appoint one.

As designed, commissioners will serve two-year terms. The tax was authorized by voters to run for 10 years, generating an estimated $8.6 million a year.

The school district was the first to announce its appoinment process. It seeks commissioner applications by Friday. The school board plans to interview up to five finalists and select its appointee by July 26. Interested persons may send email to sfette@kcpublicschools.org or call Sandra Fette at 816-418-7621.

At City Hall, James Roberts, the mayor’s public information officer, said Mayor Sly James had held “productive meetings” with representatives of the groups that brought the sales tax to the ballot through an initiative petition.

“There was a shared understanding that our nominated persons will be experienced in economic development and experienced in the community at issue,” Roberts said. “They will be people with credibility within the community.”

Roberts said the mayor expected to announce his three appointments this month.

“We hope it’s people who understand the vision of ‘One City’ and support projects within the area’s boundaries,” said Vernon Howard, a leader in the petition group. “We can’t speak to the timeline but it should be as expedient as possible so that the commission can begin to field proposals.”

Howard said “clear and precise guidelines” need to be developed to use the tax, and it’s likely that public hearings will be held to gauge development priorities along the Prospect corridor.

Marshanna Hester, public information officer for Jackson County, said this week the county legislature will select its commissioner “at a future meeting.”

The tax increase was on the April 4 ballot as the “Central City Economic Development Sales Tax.” It earned 52 percent of the vote for passage.

Its primary proponents included representatives of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City, the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity, Freedom Inc., the AdHoc Group Against Crime, and Communities Creating Opportunity, along with several clergy and business associations.

Diane Stafford: 816-234-4359, @kcstarstafford

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