Transit Action Network (TAN)

Advocates for Improved and Expanded Transit in the Kansas City Region.

A Great Victory for Transit!

Posted by Transit Action Network on December 18, 2010

On Thursday December 16, 2010, Kansas City passed an ordinance to restore funding from the ½ cent transportation sales tax to public transit.

The vote in the legislative session was 11-1 in favor of substitute Ordinance 100951. This ordinance directs the city manager and budget office to give public transit at least 95 % of the receipts from this sales tax (after TIF and city administrative fees). The compromise that enabled so many council members and the mayor to support the ordinance is a 3-year phase in period. The process will be incremental and start with the May 1, 2011 budget.  Full restoration will to be completed by May 1, 2014.

This change will amount to an additional $3.5 -$4 million a year for transit when fully implemented.  This is the biggest victory for transit in Kansas City since the vote for the 3/8-cent sales tax.

Transit Action Network (TAN) thanks everyone who worked to pass this ordinance.

TAN would particularly like to acknowledge these efforts:

  • David Martin exposed the problem in The Pitch in September to provide public awareness of the problem.
  • MORE2 (Metropolitan Organization for Racial and Economic Equity) participated in the meetings we had with the acting city manager as well as the council members and the mayor’s chief of staff. They spread the word to their member churches and other organizations.
  • KCATA and the KCATA Board of Commissioners played a major role in promoting the ordinance. KCATA General Manager, Mark Huffer, presented an excellent slide show to the committee that really made the funding problems clear.
  • At the Nov 18th Transportation and Infrastructure (T & I) committee meeting 10 organizations representing over 160,000 people plus all of the transit riders spoke in favor of the transit ordinance. They were the KCATA, KCATA Board of Commissioners, MORE2, Amalgamated Transit Union, AFL-CIO, The Whole Person, Alphapointe, RTA, AARP and of course Transit Action Network.
  • A committee of the Downtown Council sent a letter endorsing the ordinance.
  • The Ivanhoe, Blue Hills and Oak Park neighborhood associations provided support from these communities.

Our blog and tweets brought more people on board, as did the social networking efforts of other transit friendly groups.

All of the above groups generated phone calls, email messages and signatures that poured into City Hall. A lot of direct contact was made with council members too.

Brad Cooper and Lynn Horsley of the Kansas City Star wrote several articles about the ordinance and transit funding issues.

Chris Hernandez of NBC Action News CH41 covered the T & I committee meeting on Nov 18.

Council members Terry Riley, John Sharp, Beth Gottstein, Cathy Jolly and Ed Ford supported this issue immediately. When they saw the budget trends in our meetings they understood a change had to be made to limit the city diverting so much of this sales tax to other uses.

Councilman Ed Ford introduced the ordinance and was the “point man” in making this happen. When the ordinance went to the legislative session in the afternoon it had seven co-sponsors, all of the council members mentioned above as well as Melba Curls and Bill Skaggs from the T & I Committee. Councilmen Riley, chair of the T & I committee, and Ford worked closely on this issue and both of them spoke forcefully for the ordinance at the legislative session Thursday. The other council members didn’t see the final language for the ordinance until then so we were extremely pleased that there was such overwhelming support for the final version.

We appreciate Councilman Ford’s acknowledgment of TAN’s leadership role in this effort in his comments during the legislative session.

We thank Mayor Funkhouser, Council Members, acting City Manager Troy Schulte and staff for finding a compromise that was acceptable to everyone.

Transit gets the security of receiving the money from the 1/2 cent transportation sales tax and the budget office gets some time to make this change. WIN-WIN.

News story in the KC Star:

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meeting Dec 16, 2011

(Note: video link not available at this time. This blog will be updated when it is available)

Link to City Council Legislative Session Dec 16, 2011(click on 100951 to go directly to this ordinance)


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