Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Public Budget Hearing Saturday Feb 23 Speak Up About the Millions Diverted From KCATA

Posted by Transit Action Network on February 22, 2013

kcmo_big_logoLast KCMO Public Budget Hearing for FY 2013-2014

Saturday, February 23
9am to 11am
KCPD South Patrol Division (main entrance)
9701 Marion Park Drive , KCMO 64137

In 2003 and again in 2008, Kansas City passed a 3/8-cent transit sales tax in order to build a bigger better bus system. It was a package deal: the 3/8-cent transit tax would add to the already existing ½ cent transportation sales tax (which previously had been the only source of funding for the Metro) to provide KCATA with the equivalent of 7/8 cents sales tax for operating the Metro.  That is NOT what happened.METRO ogo

In the City’s proposed budget for FY 2013-2014, KCATA is getting less than 6/8 cents in sales tax. The city is diverting nearly $10 million away from KCATA even though they are violating Ordinance 100951 to do so.

For the proposed FY2013-2014 budget, 1/8-cent sales tax generates a little over $8 million.

$10_million_shortIf the city was obeying the ordinance and started incrementally increasing the KCATA share of the ½ cent transportation sales tax in May 2011, then KCATA would be getting about $6 million more in the FY 2013-2014 budget. If KCATA only got $5 million more in this budget, they would not have to bleed out the reserve account to maintain service.

Saturday is the last public budget hearing to comment on the city diverting money away from KCATA despite the clear intention of voters that the full 7/8 cent of sales tax should support the bus system.  However, continue to contact the mayor and your council members though March until the budget is adopted.

Where is nearly $10 million going in the proposed budget instead of to KCATA?

  • $6 million to non-transit projects in public works – 18% of the money
  • $2 million to the streetcar – 6.1%
  • Almost $2 million is held back by the city  – 5.4%
    • The previous two years, the city hoarded over $5 million in the fund rather than pass the money on to the KCATA.

    At this point, KCATA is not going to get one more dollar than it did this year.

This diversion of tax money away from the KCATA is not new. This is why in 2010 we approached the city to pass an ordinance that required the city manager to give 95% of the ½ cent transportation sales tax to KCATA by May 2014, and to start incrementally increasing the KCATA share of the money in May 2011. This ordinance meant the city would comply with the promises made to voters in the two earlier elections. Instead the city has violated the ordinance every year. KCATA is getting a smaller share of the fund than it did in 2010. The KCATA share has gone from 74% down to 71%.

1_2_comparison_again

Voters should understand that legally the city could trash Ordinance 100951 and totally ignore the two elections and give all the ½-cent transportation fund to roads and streetcars. Voters never get to vote on this money since it is taxing authority given to the city from the State of Missouri. That is why we approached the council in 2010 and tried to protect the bus service from encroachments from other projects by passing the ordinance. Up to this point the city has chosen to flagrantly ignore that ordinance.

In fact, the city manager is already saying he wants the council to change the ordinance. One possibility for changing the ordinance being openly discussed is to allocate $2 million to the streetcar off the top and let KCATA have 95% (or less) of what is left.

No matter how great it is to have a streetcar and give more money to roads, the bus system still has to carry the heavy load of transporting nearly 55,000 people daily to work and home and all their other transit trips. And KCATA ridership is increasing. Kansas City is huge geographically and it takes a lot of money to transport people over all these miles.  Continue to shrink the money, expect to shrink the service area and service level.

For a change, we would prefer to see KCATA fully funded and get MAX systems added to Prospect and North Oak, instead of having to cut service in a couple of years. There are consequences to the city’s actions.

The city council still has time to fix all of this. Do they have the will? Some of the council members do, such as Ed Ford and John Sharp. Please contact the mayor and the city council and let them know what you think about taking all this money away from the Metro.

Previous posts:

Action Alert! KCMO City Manager’s Budget Is Failing The Transit System

Speak Up to Restore KCATA Funding and Listen to KKFI To Get the Scoop

Lynn Horsley’s column in the KC Star http://www.kansascity.com/2013/02/08/4056689/bus-backers-worry-about-funds.html

Listen to Janet Rogers, co-founder of Transit Action Network discuss this issue on KKFI radio’s TellSomebody, hosted by Tom Klammer on Feb 5, 2013

http://tellsomebody.libsyn.com/city-manager-schulte-reneges-on-transit-funding-obligation

Contact Kansas City Mayor and City Council

Mayor’s office 816-513-3500 email Mayor@kcmo.org

Council office 816-513-1368

Go to http://kcmo.org/CKCMO/CityOfficials/CityCouncilOffice/index.htm for phone numbers and emails for specific council members

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