Government & Politics

Could scooter revenue fund affordable housing in KC? Some council members think so

Introducing Lime: KC’s newest dockless scooter

Lime scooters made its Kansas City debut Tuesday with an event at the Jazz District. Councilman Jermaine Reed tries it out and runs into another user (but not literally).
Up Next
Lime scooters made its Kansas City debut Tuesday with an event at the Jazz District. Councilman Jermaine Reed tries it out and runs into another user (but not literally).

Those new dockless scooters that popped up in downtown this summer may eventually help fund affordable housing development under a resolution passed by city council members.

Scooter companies Bird and Lime are each allowed to deploy 500 scooters around downtown Kansas City according to current agreements with the city. They pay the city $1 per day for each scooter that’s on the streets.

The council’s Housing Committee on Wednesday voted 3-2 in favor of a resolution to have City Manager Troy Schulte direct all those funds and any future funds from similar dockless vehicle arrangements toward “improving comprehensive affordable housing options that includes equitable transportation.”

The full City Council could consider the resolution Thursday. Council members were working under the assumption the policy would generate about $300,000 annually.

Councilwoman Katheryn Shields, who represents large swaths of the scooters’ reach from downtown to the Country Club Plaza, sponsored the proposal. Shields said for four years council members have been talking about affordable housing “but have not identified any new revenue to help create affordable housing.

“So this resolution at least says to the city manager we expect him to find new sources from this dockless money to build affordable housing,” she said.

The resolution leaves open what type of projects the money might fund. The Housing Committee is still working on a housing policy to help create more affordable housing in Kansas City.

Housing Committee Chairman Quinton Lucas, who represents the city’s 3rd District, said the resolution was a start and would be among the first mandates surrounding affordable housing to actually be funded. He argued the presumed $300,000 would help.

Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner, who represents the 1st District, took issue with what he saw as “earmarking” money from the general fund.

“As a matter of process and principle, my problem is that if we start doing that all we’re doing is really shrinking the general fund for other uses that we already have,” Wagner said.

At the same time, Wagner said, other city expenses will only continue to rise.

If the council is expecting the scooter fee to generate $300,000, Wagner argued the council could set aside that amount as a line-item without earmarking it from scooters.

Lucas voted for the proposal with fellow council committee members Alissia Canady and Teresa Loar. Council members Wagner and Dan Fowler voted against the proposal.

Related stories from Kansas City Star

  Comments