Judge to decide if 1 city district should be taxed for streetcar - KCTV5

Judge to decide if 1 city district should be taxed for streetcar project

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There's been a push to get streetcars in downtown Kansas City, but a Jackson County judge is deciding if taxing one district of the city to pay for the development is legal.

It's a route that would transport people through downtown Kansas City faster than ever before. If approved by voters, the new downtown street car project would run from the City Market to Union Station to start, then potentially expand later.

Funding for the street car project would come from a federal grant, a 1 percent sales tax and new special assessments in the suggested district of the development.

For example, residential landowners living in the district would have to pay an additional 48 cents per 100 dollars of assisted valve, meaning they'd have to pay up to an additional $266 a year. For business owners, the payment is around $1,500 a year, causing some to want the street car idea parked.

Bradley Tong is a consultant on street car development and he said it's a project that would help more than just downtown.

"There are geography areas that are not the downtown node or dining district - a lot of areas in between - that geographically may have spurred development along the street car line," Tong said.

Tong adds that, in other cities, the streetcar has brought more business and residents to downtown areas. It's also brought a reduction in driving by nearly 70 million miles yearly to those areas.

"What we've seen in the other communities is that the younger work force and tomorrow's work force, they all want to live and play and work downtown," he said. "They want to chuck the car."

"The progress for the future of Kansas City on both sides for individuals, from those that are presently young professionals and moving forward, we believe in the future of Kansas City and this will help bring us forward to that point," said Boyce Richardson, a neighborhood groups spokesperson.

The first step, if approved, would be a district forming election in June. Only the 10,000 residents living in the district that would be taxed would be allowed to vote.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Charles Atwell is expected to make his decision on this case within the next two weeks.

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