Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

Posts Tagged ‘KC Ordinance’

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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The Scoop on Kansas City Transit Funding

Posted by Transit Action Network on December 14, 2010

Why did such a large diverse group of Transit Supporters show up at the November 18 Kansas City Transportation & Infrastructure Committee meeting to support Ordinance 100951 to restore funding to transit?

City Government has been diverting an excessive and increasing amount of money from the ½ cent Transportation Fund to non-transit uses.

  • This is crippling transit. In 2009 KCATA reduced service by 9.5% and increased fares 20% in order to sustain an even lower level of service.
  • (Click on pie chart to enlarge.)
  • The city has gone from diverting less than 5% in FY2003/2004 to over 18% in FY2010/2011

Transit Supporters are aware of the budget pressures caused by the recession. The city has made a lot of very difficult decisions. But adequate transit is a basic city service that should be protected as a city priority. The proposed ordinance would reaffirm the city’s commitment to provide reasonable transit service to the community.

  • This is an issue of fairness, social equity, and keeping faith with the voters.
  • It honors the voter’s support for transit when they passed the supplemental 3/8 cent sales tax.
  • Transit affects people’s ability to get and maintain jobs. The national organization, Transportation Equity Network (TEN) has a new report explaining how MORE TRANSIT=MORE JOBS. 65% of the trips on our public transit system are related to work or looking for work.
  • In addition to jobs, transit provides vital connections to education, medical care, worship, shopping, entertainment and a vast array of personal activities.
  • The significant cuts to transit service have unfairly affected the people who require transit, such as the elderly and the disabled.
  • The ordinance confirms the City Council’s commitment to make Kansas City a “Green” and “Sustainable” place to live.
  • However much the City needs additional funds in times of recession, the ½ cent transportation tax shouldn’t be raided to subsidize non-transit activities.

Why do we need Ordinance 100951?

  • The pattern of shifting more and more money to non-transit uses is likely to continue without the ordinance.
  • It is much too easy to just keep diverting money from this fund for other purposes. The city currently diverts over 18%. What is to keep them from going to 25% or 30%?
  • Rather than using the 3/8 cent sales tax to improve transit as voters intended, the city is, in effect, using the 3/8 cent sales tax to replace the 1/2 cent sales tax.
  • In the current budget the 3/8-cent sales tax is providing more money for transit than the ½ cent sales tax.

Kansas City Funding for Public Transit during the recession

Funding for Public Transit

FY 2008/2009

FY 2010/2011


1/2 cent sales tax




3/8 cent sales tax








  • One third of the  $9 million decrease in transit funding over the last two years is a result of the city siphoning off additional money to non-transit uses. The remainder is due to lower collection rates during the recession.
  • The City is unlikely to help transit from other city revenue sources, so we need to make sure transit gets most of this sales tax revenue.

What does the proposed ordinance actually do?

  • The ordinance directs the budget office on how to allocate proceeds of the ½ cent transportation tax. (See footnotes)
  • There will be no change in the amount of the money available for the budget, just clear direction from the City Council that certain funds be used for transit.
  • Non-transit activities will revert to receiving 5% of the funding like they did when voters overwhelmingly voted for expanded and improved transit in 2003. The remainder will again go to transit.

Will this proposed ordinance cure the financial woes of the KCATA?

  • This ordinance will not totally mend all the financial woes of the KCATA since sales tax receipts are still low.
  • Without this ordinance, Mark Huffer, General Manager of KCATA, pointed out that service cuts of 25%-35% are looming as early as 2014, when the KCATA Reserve Fund would be exhausted.

Is there opposition to the Ordinance?

  • Some concerns have been expressed about losing “flexibility” in the budgeting process. However, considering that the transit system suffered a tremendous financial reduction from the decline in sales tax, maintaining the City’s ability to continue diverting huge amounts of money away from the transit system shouldn’t be called “flexibility”.
  • There is some concern about how to replace the money for non-transit activities that would return to transit. The non-transit activities could return to previous funding methods before the 1/2 cent transportation fund was used so heavily to subsidize their activities.

What can we do?

  • At the next Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meeting on December 16, the committee will make a recommendation on the ordinance to the full council. Please contact your city council members and the mayor to support Ordinance 100951 and restore funding to the transit system.
  • Contact information can be found here.



How will the ordinance be calculated?

  • The proposed ordinance will create a new calculation. Both TIF (Tax Incremental Financing) and city administration fees are deducted first. These currently total about 15% of this sales tax. The 95%Transit/5% Public Works split will happen after TIF and the city administration fees are deducted.

How did TAN get all of this budget information?

  • The Kansas City Budget is online. Choose the appropriate budget from the box in the upper right corner on this link.  Next click on any of the icons that appear. Then open or download the PDF file. It is over 500 pages long. From the FY 2010-1011 Adopted Budget TAN mainly used the Budget by Department and the Schedules.


Related articles can be found on this blog by using Category “Action” or tag “KC Ordinance”

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Alert! Date Changed for hearing on Ordiance 100951 – DEC 16

Posted by Transit Action Network on December 11, 2010

Alert! At the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meeting on Dec. 9, Councilman Riley announced that Ordinance 100951 will be addressed next week on DECEMBER 16.  Additional testimony will be allowed. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meeting will be at 9 am on the 10th floor of City Hall.

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Change of Date for Committee Vote on Ordinance 100951

Posted by Transit Action Network on December 8, 2010

A decision on transit Ordinance 100951 will not happen tomorrow, December 9, 2010. Councilman Riley, Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, intends to hold the ordinance, which restores funding to transit from the ½ cent sales transportation tax, to allow staff additional time to provide a plan to the Council.

We have been told that staff will provide a plan addressing the budget implications if the ordinance passes on the non-transit activities that are currently using that money.

Of course passing the ordinance would start to address the huge shortfall in the public transit budget.

The next discussion of the ordinance is planned for Jan. 6, 2011. The Council will not meet for two weeks over the holidays. On Jan 6th staff will present information concerning the budget.

We are pursuing permission to provide additional public testimony on Jan 6.

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Transit Supporters Unite at KC City Hall 11/18/2010

Posted by Transit Action Network on November 23, 2010

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  Public testimony begins about 22 min into this 48 min clip.

Recent press about Ordinance 100951:

Nov 14 Star story

Nov 18 Star editorial

Nov 18 Ch41 story with 2m05s news clip

Nov 19 Star story

Please contact your city council members and the mayor to support Ordinance 100951 and restore funding to the transit system.

Contact information.

After Thanksgiving: What does this ordinance really do and why is the transit community so adamant about it?

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KCMO Ordinance Would Protect Transit Funding

Posted by Transit Action Network on November 10, 2010

Transit Action Network (TAN) is very pleased to announce that Councilman Ed Ford introduced KCMO Ordinance NO. 100951 to the city council last week. The ordinance was co-sponsored by Council members Ford, Sharp and Gottstein.

This ordinance would restore transit funding and restrict what the city can use for non-transit projects. It limits the City’s use of the 1/2-cent transportation tax for non-transit related purposes to 5%. Currently, KCMO is using approximately 18% for such purposes, or in excess of $5M. Although the City has the legal right to do so, we believe it is inconsistent with the voters’ desire to improve finances for public transit, as evidenced by their overwhelming support for the 3/8-cent transit sales tax in the elections of 2003 and 2008.

TAN started working to get an ordinance to restrict the city’s use of the 1/2-cent transportation sales tax in August when we met with the acting city manager Troy Schulte. Subsequently we have met with city council members and the mayor’s chief of staff. MORE2 (Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity) has participated in these meetings with city officials and we have worked together closely on this effort.

TAN requested limiting non-transit expenditures to 4%, so this proposed ordinance is consistent with our request. We have been working with KCATA, which also made the same request.

We will be testifying in favor of this ordinance Thursday, November 18th at the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meeting at 9 am, 10th floor of City Hall.

The first step in passage of this ordinance is for the committee to support the ordinance and send it to the whole city council. If that happens, then the city council needs to pass the ordinance. Seven votes are needed in the full council to pass the ordinance.

Committee members are Councilpersons Riley, Curls, Jolly, and Skaggs. Please let them know that you are in favor of this ordinance.

It is also appropriate to contact other Council offices and simply let them know you are in support of this ordinance.

We are reaching out to other organizations and Kansas City neighborhoods to encourage the city to adopt this ordinance.


Amending Chapter 68, Article VII, Code of Ordinances of Kansas City, Missouri entitled “Sales Taxes,” to enact a new section which provides for the distribution of the transportation tax.


Section 1: That Chapter 68, Article VII, Code of Ordinances of Kansas City, Missouri, entitled “Sales Taxes,” is hereby amended by enacting a new section 68-472.1, entitled “Distribution of tax,” to read as follows:

Sec. 68-472.1 Distribution of tax.  At least ninety-five percent of the sales tax for transportation imposed by Sec. 68-471 of this article and deposited in the City’s Public Mass Transportation Trust Fund shall be appropriated and paid by the City to the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority for purposes as provided in RSMo. 92.400 – 92.421 inclusive. Any portion of this appropriation and payment in excess of that designated by contract as being due the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority for performing its contractual obligations to the City shall be utilized by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority for its general purposes in providing a public mass transportation system.

Please do not hesitate to contact TAN if you need to discuss this issue. We appreciate your help.


Link to ordinance on the city website.

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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

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KC is Crippling Its Transit System …. and how to fix the 2011/2012 transit budget

Posted by Transit Action Network on September 15, 2010

Kansas City has not been fully funding the transit system for several years. Instead, the city is systematically diverting funds previously used for transit to non-transit projects, such as traffic signals.

The transit system is funded by two different sales taxes. The 1/2-cent sales tax feeds the Public Mass Transportation Fund (PMTF). This fund is where the problem exists. The 3/8-cent sales tax is a transit-dedicated fund so the transit system gets those monies.

Since the 1/2-cent sales tax is for TRANSPORTATION, not TRANSIT, it is legal to use the money on things like traffic engineering or road signs. However, this fund has been the foundation of transit funding in the city since it was originally passed. When voters approved the 3/8-cent sales tax it was supposed to supplement the 1/2-cent tax to provide greater transit in the City. Soon after the passage of the new tax the City started diverting more and more of this money to other projects. When the supplemental tax was passed the KCATA was receiving 87% of the money from the PMTF. By the time the recession hit KCATA was only getting 80% of the money and the city’s portion had risen from under 5% to over 9%.

Then the recession hit in late 2008. What happened in the next budget? The transit funding was severely cut to 69% of the receipts while the city’s portion rose to 15%. Of course people expected to see reductions in service, after all this was a huge economic downturn. Therefore, people just bit the bullet and accepted the transit situation without a whimper. The City continues to siphon off more money for non-transit uses. It may be legal but it sure isn’t right!

When the 2009/2010 Budget was announced the KCATA had to scramble to adjust to the severe last minute cut. It reduced service nearly 10% and raised fares 20%. The sales tax receipts are more today than they were in 2003 yet the KCATA is receiving $5 million less from this fund.

The KCATA cannot maintain the current level of reduced service with the money it is receiving from the City. So how is KCATA funding the transit system at this level? By exhausting its reserve account. When the 3/8-cent sales tax passed the KCATA started a reserve account. They could see the trend of the City’s budgeting for the PMTF even before the huge shock with the 2009/2010 Budget. This reserve had been allowed to grow. With the reduced service and higher fares, KCATA calculates it can survive at the current level of service by using up the reserve until the end of 2013 when the money will be depleted. At that point KCATA might have to cut service another 35% unless things change.

This is a really ineffective way to fund a transit system. Transit funding might have to fluctuate with sales tax receipts, TIF obligations and city administrative fees, but it should not be subjected to city bureaucrats or city officials utilizing the money for non-transit related projects.

No business can manage effectively with wild fluctuations in revenue, especially when those fluctuations are not caused by the economy. If we want the KCATA to expand and improve transit we have to make sure they receive the funds they were intended them to have.

Transit Action Network wants to regain some sanity in transit funding. By putting a legal cap on what the city can use for non-transit projects, the PMTF can once again be the foundation for transit funding and the KCATA can regain the necessary confidence about it’s future funding to once again begin to plan for transit expansion.  That security would allow KCATA to implement the recommendations that come out of the Comprehensive Service Analysis currently underway.  KCATA could also feel comfortable maintaining a reasonable reserve amount.

Transit Action Network is already meeting with city council members. We have partnered with the Metropolitan Organization for Racial and Economic Equity (MORE2) to help bring about this change. We have started making appointments with neighborhood leaders in the Green Impact Zone. We hope to mobilize the residents of Kansas City to stand up for the transit system.

Let your council members and the mayor know you are concerned about this situation and encourage them to create a legal cap to restrict funding non-transit projects in the PMTF. Our solution is stated below in a document we are delivering to the council and the mayor. Or just ask them to implement the legal cap on non-transit projects proposed by the Transit Action Network (TAN).

We will be posting updates to this effort on this blog as well as on our twitter account

Document for City Council Members and the Mayor


Issue: 2011/2012 Budget for the 1/2 cent Public Mass Transportation Fund

Our Position: The City has diverted an increasing and excessive amount of the 1/2-cent Public Mass Transportation Fund away from transit to non-transit projects. We believe the non-transit portion of this fund should be legally capped at 4 percent of Total Revenues (Sales Tax Receipts less TIF). This cap will assure that the separate 3/8-cent Transit Sales Tax supplements the 1/2-cent Sales Tax to improve and expand transit for Kansas City’s citizens.


Kansas City 1/2 cent Public Mass Transportation Fund
Budget 2003/2004 2008/2009 2009/2010 2010/2011


$28,789,178 32,560,000 31,218,750 29,600,000

City-non transit

1,333,411 3,083,561 4,813,252 5,413,196

ATA contract

$24,976,506 26,349,787 21,551,903 19,870,641

% of receipts

City %

4.63 9.38 15.42 18.29


86.76 80.19 69.04 67.13
  • Drastic cuts to transit funding are crippling the transit system

In 2003/2004 the 1/2-cent tax generated $29 million, and $25 million (86.7%) was used for transit. The city used $1.3 million (4.6%) of revenue for non-transit purposes.

The City began diverting large amounts from this fund to non-transit projects after passage of the 3/8-cent transit sales tax in 2003.  This trend began well before the current “revenue crunch” and had already reached 9.4% of receipts by the 2008/2009 Budget.

Receipts estimates for 2010/2011 are $29.6 million but transit will receive only $19.9 million or 67% (significantly less than in 2003/2004), while the city will increase its take to $5.4 million or 18.3%.

People expect to see cuts to transit services during severe recessions. Unfortunately, this expectation provided the cover necessary to nearly double the percentage used for non-transit projects to 18.3% in the 2010/2011 Budget as compared to 9.4% in the 2008/2009 budget by cutting transit funding.

When voters approved an additional 3/8-cent transit sales tax in 2003, and renewed it in 2008, they expected it to supplement the 1/2-cent tax, not replace it.  Whereas the 3/8-cent transit sales tax was to increase transit, transit service has actually been shrinking and fares have been increased 20% because of the diversion of the 1/2 cent transportation funds.  The City is not keeping faith with the electorate.

This budgetary trend jeopardizes the City’s ability to increase sales taxes for additional transit, such as a streetcar, or to receive emergency funding for transit services from state and/or federal sources.

The trend of using less of the sales tax receipts for transit and more for non-transit appears to be systematic and intentional and we believe this needs to be reversed.

  • Jobs

In a recent survey by ETC Institute, 65% of local transit trips are for job related activities such as commuting to work or seeking employment.

A recent report from Transit Equity Network (TEN), More Transit=More Jobs, shows that there is more job creation with increased levels of transit funding than there is with funding roads.

  • Sustainability

Kansas City has recently adopted strong policies in support of sustainability and has undertaken a number of green initiatives.  Transit is an integral part of making Kansas City sustainable and green.  Diverting 1/2-cent sales tax revenues away from transit is not consistent with the Council’s adopted policies.


Transit Action Network



Read David Martin’s Transit Article in the Pitch 9/15/10 

KC’s lousy bus service stems in part from City Hall’s lousy budgeting

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