Elections

Fates of bond proposals, tax initiative, pot penalties rest with KC area voters

Kansas City voters will decide on a massive infrastructure bond proposal, a sales tax measure and a reduction in pot possession penalties. Question 1 would provide $600 million for streets, bridges and sidewalks.
Kansas City voters will decide on a massive infrastructure bond proposal, a sales tax measure and a reduction in pot possession penalties. Question 1 would provide $600 million for streets, bridges and sidewalks. FRED BL0CHER/The Kansas City Sta

It’s now up to KC area voters to decide a host of important ballot measures Tuesday.

Kansas City voters will decide on a massive infrastructure bond proposal, a sales tax measure and a reduction in pot possession penalties.

Various municipal and school board positions, as well as tax and bond proposals, are also up for consideration in Platte, Clay and Cass counties and in smaller Jackson County municipalities.

Polls in Missouri open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. No elections are planned in Wyandotte or Johnson counties.

To encourage voters to go to the polls, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority will provide free rides on its RideKC routes in Kansas City all day Tuesday. People can call 816-221-0660 and provide their starting point and address of their polling place. A transit trip planner is also available at RideKC.org.

Among the key issues that voters will decide Tuesday:

▪ Infrastructure. The City Council is seeking voter approval to borrow and spend $800 million over the next 20 years on city infrastructure.

Question 1 would provide $600 million for streets, bridges and sidewalks. Question 2 seeks $150 million for flood control. Question 3 would provide $50 million for city building improvements.

The city says this infrastructure plan responds to citizen priorities. Critics say the tax increase required to pay off the bonds is too much, and they want a more specific list of projects. The questions each need 57.1 percent approval to pass.

▪ Center city development. A coalition of social justice and African-American civil rights organizations gathered petition signatures to put a 10-year, 1/8-cent citywide sales tax on the ballot. Question 4 would generate about $8.6 million per year, for economic development from Ninth Street to Gregory Boulevard and from The Paseo to Indiana Avenue.

This needs simple majority approval. Supporters say it would bolster a long-neglected area. Critics say there’s no guarantee the money would be wisely spent.

▪ Pot penalties. Marijuana reform supporters gathered petition signatures seeking voter approval for Question 5, to lower the maximum Municipal Court fine from $500 to $25 and eliminate jail time for possession of 35 grams of marijuana or less.

This needs simple majority approval. Supporters say they don’t want people jailed or fined heavily for marijuana offenses. Critics say violators may be tempted to just accept the citation, which could go on their record and affect future job or educational opportunities.

▪ School bond issues. New buildings, renovated classrooms and storm shelters highlight school bond proposals. In most cases, the districts have been refinancing existing bonds so that voters can approve new bonds without a tax increase. The bond issues need a four-sevenths majority — 57.1 percent approval — to pass.

Park Hill is seeking the largest amount, $110 million, which would include building new elementary and middle schools. Independence wants $38 million for projects that include a new elementary school.

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