Kansas City transit supporters are eager to build on the downtown streetcar’s success and get going with the special elections required to expand south to the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
But they ran into a buzz saw of resistance Thursday from some City Council members who worry that a streetcar campaign could compete and clash with next year’s citywide bond election for infrastructure.
Thursday’s City Council discussion revealed the dilemma confronting city leaders. They are trying to balance citizen demands for massive infrastructure improvements with transit advocates’ sense of urgency to capitalize on the downtown streetcar’s popularity.
The City Council wants to ask voters citywide next spring to approve a modest property tax increase for major street, sidewalk, bridge and other basic infrastructure projects.
Meanwhile, a grass-roots group wants to hold a series of special elections from late this year through next summer, asking a small part of the city along the Main Street corridor for a modest property tax increase and sales tax increase to help pay for streetcar expansion.
The City Council can’t stop the streetcar elections, which would be paid for by the private sector, but they fret that the competing priorities could hurt both agendas.