Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Archive for March, 2015

Transit Talk Mar 31 – Prospect MAX, RideKC and Re-Designing Downtown Transit on 90.1FM KKFI

Posted by Transit Action Network on March 30, 2015


KKFI 90.1 FMWhat happened to Prospect MAX after the streetcar extension vote failed? What is RideKC? Why are we re-designing the flow of transit downtown?MAX brt

Host Janet Rogers speaks with Cindy Baker, KCATA Vice-President of Communications and Dick Jarrold, KCATA Vice President of Regional Planning and Development about these important regional transit issues.

LISTEN TO PODCAST

  • When: Tuesday March 31 at 6 pm
  • Where: KKFI 90.1 FM Community Radio, Radio Active Magazine

    Downtown Streetcar is using the RideKC brand and the streetcar icon

    Downtown Streetcar is using the RideKC brand and the streetcar icon

  1. Get the latest update on Prospect MAX. Funding for this project was linked with the streetcar extension last year. This project is very important to the east side of Kansas City and needs to go forward without the streetcar. The Prospect BRT Advisory Committee has been reformed and planning continues, but are we getting closer to a Prospect MAX as a stand-alone project? Prospect MAX visuals
  2. RideKC is the new regional logo for all things transit in the whole region. TAN has advocated for a regional brand for years. This new brand is the first major step in creating a regional transit system. Find out about the new regional transit brand. KCATA Board Approves RideKC brand
  3. Downtown is getting a transit make-over. What are the proposed changes and how they will affect you? Downtown Service Improvement Concept

DT_Transit_021115Join us Tuesday at 6pm on 90.1FM KKFI Kansas City Community Radio.

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Lots of Changes Needed To The KCMO Transit Budget!

Posted by Transit Action Network on March 25, 2015


Kansas_City_STARMike Hendricks’ article in the KC STAR last Saturday about the city’s new “Rumor” page, shows that the city is so desperate to divert the bus money that it will mis-represent a city ordinance to spin its position. The city does not want to re-calculate the bus payment from the ½ percent sales tax on the proceeds for the year. Hendricks, like anyone else, can read the ordinance and see the bus funding is not based on a year old estimate, which is wrong by $4M, but on the proceeds for the year. http://bit.ly/1CGgEe6

We want to clarify that this issue is not about KCATA, but the city’s integrity and honesty in how it deals with voters, taxpayer’s money and obeying city law.  We should not need an ordinance for the city to honor its promise to voters to build a bigger better bus system. The city’s promise provided the bus system with 7/8 percent sales tax, if voters agreed to pay an additional 3/8 percent to supplement the 1/2 percent sales tax. However, we got the city to pass the ordinance when it was caught diverting large sums of money away from the bus system. It seems the city is struggling to break that habit, even with a city law. Taxpayers don’t like bait and switch especially when it concerns their hard-earned cash. If KCATA doesn’t get the money, then we don’t get the bus service we were promised. We are paying the 7/8 percent in sales taxes but the city isn’t giving all the money to the bus system.

KCdesignsipadkcbackgroundSince the city council is voting March 26th on the new budget, let’s look at all the problems we are aware of in both this year’s actual expenditures and the Submitted Budget. Get the Submitted Budget FY15-16

Public Mass Transportation Fund (1/2 percent sales tax) PAGE 382

Fiscal year 2014-2015 actual expenditures

1. We want the budget department to calculate the final payments for the bus system for this fiscal year based on the formula in Ordinance 130796 for the actual PROCEEDS for this year. The payments are not based on the budget, which was estimated a year ago and ended up being significantly underestimated. Revenue going up an unexpected 13% is great, and if the budget department had budgeted correctly last year, KCATA would already be receiving the correct amount. Based on the year-end estimated figures and the ordinance formula for net receipts, KCATA should receive over $29 million this year but the report shows they are only going to receive $25 million. KCATA is only receiving 81% of the net receipts and 68% of the gross receipts. That is a long way from the 95% of net receipts stated in the ordinance. The city should not disobey the law or change it to avoid paying the bus system the appropriate amount of money.

We are concerned about facts, and this is not a rumor. The city has not dealt with why they aren’t re-calculating the payment to the bus system for FY14-15.  They talk about doing the adopted budget right last year, which is irrelevant now, or they talk about the Submitted Budget for next year, or they talk about the 3/8 percent sales tax when this problem is with the 1/2 percent sales tax. So far there is total avoidance of the real issue.

This fiscal year isn’t over until April 30th and it takes the city about 2 months to close the books. During that time it is easy and a normal accounting procedure to make these types of adjustments for the payment to KCATA based the net sales tax proceeds generated for this year.

2. The ordinance says the downtown streetcar subsidy “shall not exceed $2,039,000” The city is transferring $2,068,000 to the streetcar. This amount is wrong and should be corrected.

At this point Kansas City is not honoring its promise to voters, distributing the sales tax as taxpayers believe their taxes are being spent, or obeying the law as passed in Ordinance 130796.

Fiscal year 2015-2016 Submitted Budget

1. Obviously there will be significant changes to the amounts budgeted for Public Works and the transfer to the General Fund for Street Maintenance if corrections are made to Fiscal Year 2014-2015. Nevertheless, we have to deal with what is currently on the report.

  • We have several concerns about the $2 million transfer to the General Fund.
    • According to state law this money can only be used on transportation projects. When money is transferred to the General Fund it loses its audit trail as transportation money.
    • The budget director says this money is transferred to the Street Maintenance Fund. There is a transfer from General Fund to Street Maintenance for $15.7 million, so the state mandated requirement appears lost for the $2 million. This transfer should have been made directly from the Public Mass Transportation Fund to Street Maintenance Fund page 387. The budget shouldn’t be a scavenger hunt for the money. This two-step transaction looks like the city is trying to hide the fact that additional money from the bus funding is going to street maintenance. Of course, this money probably shouldn’t come out of the bus funding to start with.
  • The budget director said this $2 million for Street Maintenance is for street re-paving, including re-paving the streets for the streetcar work. Obviously the streets need to be re-paved along the streetcar construction line, but this re-paving should be charged to the Streetcar Fund, page 387 in the budget, and not the Public Mass Transportation Fund, which funds the buses. Basic Accounting 101 requires billing to the correct account for the work done. The correct account should be charged.

2. Using the ordinance formula for net receipts, the amount budgeted for KCATA is too low by $350,000 in the Submitted Budget.  The formula should be calculated correctly, with transparency, each year. Any attempts to do otherwise will only be seen as an attempt to subvert the ordinance. KCATA can receive at least 95% of the adjusted receipts, but not less. If the proceeds are more next year, then the payment needs to be adjusted upwards. This amount needs to be corrected.

The City Manager has said that the budgeted amount will be the minimum KCATA will receive. That is why he has a reserve in the account. We agree with that process but the reserve should only be about $1.5 million.

3. The ordinance says the streetcar shall receive no more than $2,039,000, but the budget has $2,069,000. The ordinance clearly states a fixed maximum amount, so this line item needs to be corrected.

KCATA Sales Tax Fund (3/8 percent sales tax) PAGE 368

Fiscal year 2015-2016

This Fund handles the 3/8 percent sales tax and the receipts are dedicated 100% to KCATA by voters. We appreciate that the city is going to transfer the excess money that has accumulated in this account to KCATA. It is about $3 million.

We will know the outcome of the budget deliberations tomorrow, Thursday March 26.

Previous posts on this topic:

KSHB41 TV Reporter Lexi Sutter Understands The Bus Funding Problem includes a list of the amounts of money diverted from the bus system since 2003.

Speak Up! Why is Kansas City Giving Transit Money To Public Works, AGAIN? includes calculations of bus payments based on the ordinance

Posted in Local Transit Issues | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Attend Transit Stakeholder Forum March 19

Posted by Transit Action Network on March 17, 2015


KCATAMARC and KCATA are holding the next Transit Stakeholder Forum on March 19.

When: Thursday, March 19 @ 5–6:30 p.m.
Where: Mid-America Regional Councilmarclogo
600 Broadway, Suite 200, Kansas City, MO 64105

Agenda items:

Review feedback received at the last meeting and online for “the future of SmartMoves”

Goals of the long-range transit vision update and RideKC Workforce Connex, the TIGER VI planning project that proposes to increase the access to employment by transit over the next ten years, will be presented. Forum participants will provide feedback on the direction of this work. Your feedback will be used to develop the final scope of work to be carried out by qualified consultants.

Open dialogue with transit providers about current transit issues that participants would like to address

Please join the conversation!Transit_Stakeholder_Fourm-2

Metro Routes: www.kcata.org
The JO Routes: http://www.jocogov.org/dept/transit/home
“The Transit Stakeholder Forum is a public meeting where you can provide input for the Regional Transit Coordinating Council — a committee that advises MARC, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and local transit partners and jurisdictions on issues such as regional transit planning, priorities, coordination and implementation.”

Posted in Events, Local Transit Issues, Regional Transit Issue | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

KSHB41 TV Reporter Lexi Sutter Understands The Bus Funding Problem

Posted by Transit Action Network on March 14, 2015


 

KCdesignsipadkcbackgroundKSHB41 TV Lexi Sutter’s investigative reporting on the bus funding for the current fiscal year makes the right points, but the city keeps talking about the next budget instead of this year.  http://m.kshb.com/1KU607o

Why won’t Kansas City give the buses 95% of the proceeds from the 1/2 percent transportation sales tax for 2014-2015? The city says it used the Ordinance 130796 formula correctly in last year’s budget. But the buses get 95% of the proceeds from the sales tax, not the estimated budget! The estimated budget, which projected revenue a year ago, ended up being 13% too low and amounts to over a $4.2 million difference. The city isn’t explaining why they haven’t re-calculated the bus money using the correct number. Assuming the city calculates the correct amount for this year, then KCATA will receive sufficient payment to fully cover the cost of the bus service and it won’t have to use its reserve account to maintain the bus system this year. In the submitted budget, KCATA won’t have to use its reserves next year either.

Read Ordinance 130796  http://cityclerk.kcmo.org/LiveWeb/Documents/Document.aspx?q=zT%2b9oP6Cj23recZFOqoSsx7Who34WMwvQMLTybnkidgfyTXyiaO8cwN9vsqsA1HT

Please contact the City Council and the Mayor and tell them that you voted to pay higher sales taxes for a bigger and better bus system. You want your sales taxes spent as they promised.

The final Finance Committee meeting on the budget is at 8:30 am next Wednesday, the 18th, 10th floor, City Hall. You can also send an email or call the City Council and Mayor

Here are the basic points to be made.
1 This current fiscal year, 2014-2015, the city needs to honor its commitment to voters and taxpayers and obey ordinance 130796, and give the buses 95% of the actual proceeds from the Public Mass Transportation Sales Tax, as calculated in the ordinance.
2 The ordinance does NOT limit the bus money to the estimated budget amount from last year, that is WRONG and everyone knows it. Calculate the right amount based on the actual tax receipts.
3 Not adjusting to the actual dollars is a violation of the law.
4 The budgeted revenue for 2014-2015 was 13% too low. The buses shouldn’t suffer because the budget was terribly wrong. If the budget department had estimated the correct amount last year, then the buses would be getting the right amount of money to start with. So they should get the additional money NOW. It is normal to adjust to the actual dollars
5 Stop trying to ignore this violation of the law by changing the subject to the submitted budget for next year, 2015-2016.

Ask any official you talk to or email if they will commit to making sure the bus system gets the correct amount of money this year based on the ordinance. You can find the email addresses and phone numbers for the city officials at KCMO.gov

These numbers do not include the 2% Administrative fee or TIF

These numbers do not include the 2% Administrative fee or TIF

We wish the city would stop playing games with taxpayers money. People desperately need a bigger and better bus system and a large majority of people voted for extra taxes to get just that. The first vote for the additional 3/8 percent sales tax was in 2003.  Here is a chart of how much money has been used for purposes other than the buses from the 1/2 percent transportation sales tax since that first vote, despite promises from the city. The bus system is not receiving 7/8 percent in sales taxes.

It is a very sad comment on city government that we felt an ordinance was needed to get the city to honor its commitments to voters. It shouldn’t be needed but you can see for yourself what they have been doing. This was the first year the full 95% of the sales tax was supposed to kick in and the city is still trying to get out of it by keeping $6 million to give away next year.

See our previous post with more detail.  Speak Up! Why is Kansas City Giving Transit Money To Public Works, AGAIN?

 

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