Update on KC transit funding 10/4/2010
Posted by Transit Action Network on October 5, 2010
Kansas City has been diverting the half-cent sales tax money away from transit for several years. As a result, transit service was cut last year by 9.5 percent and fares were increased 20 percent.
Transit Action Network (TAN) is asking the Kansas City city council to pass an ordinance to limit the city’s non-transit use of the ½ cent sales tax that feeds the Public Mass Transportation Fund. We would like to see a limit in the range of 4%-5%, which would be in line with the amount the city used for these items when the voters enacted the supplemental 3/8-cent transit sales tax.
The city’s use for non-transit related projects has grown from under 5% in 2003 to over 18% in 2010.
Even in this recession, the city is receiving more in sales tax than it did in 2003, yet public transit is getting $5 million less this year than in 2003. The money is going to road related projects instead of transit.
Transit Action Network has already met with nine council members and acting City Manager Troy Schulte. A member of MORE2 (Metropolitan Organization for Racial and Economic Equity) has been part of the delegation at nearly all of these meetings. We are working with MORE2 because this issue affects getting to and maintaining jobs, which is important to both our groups.
We have met with: Troy Schulte, Cindy Circo, Beth Gottstein, Terry Riley, John Sharp, Jan Marcason, Bill Skaggs, Cathy Jolly, Ed Ford and Melba Curls. We have meetings scheduled with the remaining council members.
We updated the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority Board of Commissioners at their September 22 meeting.
We are also making arrangements to speak at neighborhood associations to expand the awareness of this problem. We have already scheduled presentations for the Ivanhoe and Blue Hills neighborhoods.
This is also a sustainability issue. The city needs to make its actions match its green value system. The city has adopted numerous green initiatives and improving transit is a major component of sustainability. You can’t get to sustainability by de-funding transit.
TAN members spoke last March at the city council’s budget hearings, but we learned that was too late. Now is the time to speak out about the budget if there is any hope of affecting it.
When we met with Troy Schulte in August he advised us to RAISE THE LEVEL OF DISCUSSION ABOUT TRANSIT, and he reminded us that the SQUEAKY WHEEL GETS GREASED.
So we’re beginning to squeak. Loudly.
Some council members didn’t know about this issue and needed to do some research. Some are ready to support limiting the city’s use of these funds. Only one has been adamant about “not hamstringing the budget!”
We don’t’ think the way to fix the city’s other problems is to create a new problem by gutting the transit system.
If you haven’t contacted your councilperson and the mayor, please do so. You can get their email address or phone number at http://kcmo.org/CKCMO/CityOfficials/