Friday, March 23, 2012

KCMO Seeks Federal Dollars for Light Rail Project

A grant, to be exact. A $25 million grant from the Feds for this 4 mile long, downtown KCMO light rail project (read: street car). But that's only one fourth of it's estimated total cost of $100 million. That works out to be $25 million per mile - for a street car line! The remaining $75 million will be raised via increased local sales and property taxes.

Good ol' KCMO; racing back to the future with 19th century technology - on the backs of broke taxpayers already responsible for $16,000,000,000,000.00 of federal debt. Yet Clay Chastain is still unhappy.

OK, so it's a 21st century update of 19th century technology. And it is a very fancy aerodynamic train which I'm sure has all the creature comforts a commuter could desire, but $25 MILLION per mile to construct? Lots of downtown property owners are very upset at this prospect.

From the KC Star:
"To help pay the local share, the city has proposed creating a special taxing district involving about 1,600 downtown owners who would face a property tax increase plus a 1 percent sales tax increase. Actual creation of that taxing district must be approved by voters, probably in June. But those eligible to go to the polls would be the 10,000 or so registered voters who live downtown, not the property owners, most of whom live elsewhere.

Many business owners could see their taxes go up by tens of thousands of dollars each year. Crown Center Redevelopment is facing a $500,000 increase. Downtown’s biggest property owner, DST, is estimated to face an increase of $1 million annually. Even nonprofits, such as the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, could face a hefty new tax.

( Downtown Council President Bill) Dietrich, who speaks for the interests of downtown businesses, has been canvassing key members and hearing lots of angst about potentially driving away tenants, shoppers and hotel customers.

Bill Lucas, president of Crown Center Redevelopment, owner of the massive hotel, office and retail development that anchors the south end of Grand Boulevard, worries not just about the property tax but also about the sales tax increase.

“We would have the second-highest hotel room tax in the country at 18-plus percent, and that would catapult us to a different level of taxation,” he said."

I like trains. Really, I do (note my nom de digital), but it's more for nostalgia and hobby than a practical transportation solution for the urban core. Long distance bullet trains that compete with airlines or automobiles, yes. Maybe. But modern buses with their green technology and customizable routes are far more efficient, economical and commuter friendly in the urban core than over-price, fixed track infrastructure better suited for an amusement park.
Smile Train
Providing Cleft lip and palate surgery to children all over the world.
If you agree with these people that it's a worthy charity, please CLICK HERE to donate any amount.

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