Transit Action Network and nine other groups united last Thursday to testify at the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meeting to endorse Ordinance 100951. The ordinance was introduced by Councilman Ed Ford and co-sponsored by Council members Gottstein and Sharp.
This ordinance would help restore funding to transit. The city has diverted money to other purposes against the obvious intentions of the citizens who voted in 2003 and 2008 for an additional sales tax to improve and expand transit. In 2003 the city took $1.9 million from the 1/2 cent transportation tax for non-transit purposes and in 2010 they are taking $ 5.2 million. This shift in city budgeting has left a big hole in the transit budget.
Mark Huffer, General Manager of KCATA, started the testimony by providing a very informative slide show about the financial difficulties of KCATA, which are partly caused by the recession and partly caused by City Council budget decisions. After his presentation, there were presentations by representatives of the ATA Board of Commissioners, MORE2, Amalgamated Transit Union, AFL-CIO, The Whole Person, Alphapointe, RTA, AARP and of course Transit Action Network (TAN).
These presentations provided a huge outpouring of support from transit professionals, transit advocates, religious and social equity networks, and representatives from organizations representing the disabled, the elderly and the unions.
When we began meeting with the acting city manager and the council members in August, we were told repeatedly that they never heard from transit. We don’t think they can say that after Thursday.
The head of the Public Works department expressed concern about the ordinance. Of course his department has benefited from the money diverted to non-transit projects. However, transit has taken an unfair share of the burden in this recession. Transit suffered by losing funding from both the downturn in sales tax receipts and the excessive amounts of money diverted by the city to non-transit purposes.
Links to media coverage
Video of Nov 18 City Council hearing on 100951 is on the City website at http://bit.ly/bdfR9X. Public testimony begins about 22 min into this 48 min clip.
Recent press about Ordinance 100951:
Nov 14 Star story http://bit.ly/cscKLd
Nov 18 Star editorial http://bit.ly/c2aIvG
Nov 18 Ch41 story http://bit.ly/9Lzyyy with 2m05s news clip
Nov 19 Star story http://bit.ly/csLEPn
Please contact your city council members and the mayor to support Ordinance 100951 and restore funding to the transit system.
Contact information. http://kcmo.org/CKCMO/CityOfficials/index.htm
After Thanksgiving: What does this ordinance really do and why is the transit community so adamant about it?