By John Sharp
Kansas City residents may be asked to approve a major bond issue for basic city infrastructure improvements on the April 4, 2017, election ballot.
City Manager Troy Schulte told Stacey Johnson-Cosby, President of the South Kansas City Alliance, and me August 15 that the city is considering proposing an $800 million bond issue to fund major street and bridge, building and flood control improvements.
Schulte said the proposal would cost an average homeowner with a $140,000 home and a $15,000 vehicle about $10 to $12 a year.
He said the proposal as currently envisioned would fund sidewalk repairs so they would no longer be assessed to adjoining property owners as many suburban cities already do. Currently, such repairs can cost homeowners several thousand dollars if their sidewalks need major repairs, and homeowners with corner lots can be hit with assessments for sidewalks on two sides of their property. (Homeowners can pay the assessments plus interest over six years.)
The city now only pays to install new sidewalks where there are none in existence. Schulte said the bond issue could fund major street improvements in south Kansas City such as widening Holmes Road south to Martin City, continuing to widen the remaining 2-lane portions of 135 th Street in Martin City and Red Bridge Road from Blue River Road to Grandview Road, reopening the closed portion of Blue River Road and continuing the reconstruction of Wornall Road.
He said the proposal is likely to include the city’s share of funding to construct a new animal shelter to be financed in part through private donations to replace the current antiquated and undersized shelter on Raytown Road south of the sports complex.
Any general obligation bond issue requires City Council approval to be placed on the ballot. Bond issues placed on the April ballot require a four-sevenths affirmative vote for approval.
The City Council could decide not to proceed with placing the measure on the ballot or could modify it significantly, but there appears to be support for addressing basic infrastructure needs in some manner.
Speaking at the August 18 Third Thursday event at the Martin Event Space, City Councilman Kevin McManus said adequate public infrastructure drives economic growth, and amenities such as sidewalks help develop a sense of community.
“This is a critical opportunity for us to make long-term investments in our aging infrastructure that has suffered from lack of investment,” McManus said in an interview following his remarks.
Schulte is scheduled to speak on the proposal at the 6 p.m. South Kansas City Alliance meeting on Monday, September 12, at the South Patrol Police Station, 9701 Marion Park Drive.
PIAC Deadline Aug. 31
The deadline for the city to receive applications for capital improvements to be recommended for funding next fiscal year starting May 1, 2017, by the Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC) that I serve on is August 31.
Funding for these improvements comes from a 1-cent city sales tax originally passed by voters in 1983 and last renewed in 2007. Projects eligible for funding include things like street widening; curb, gutter or sidewalk installation; storm drainage control; and park improvements.
One more PIAC hearing in south Kansas City on projects of citywide significance will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 24, at Hillcrest Community Center, 10401 Hillcrest Road. Persons may obtain application forms at the hearing or by contacting the city capital improvements program at 816-513-8828 or PIAC@kcmo.org.
Keep Out the Rain KC
Kansas City residential and commercial property owners within designated areas of south Kansas City can take advantage of a limited time program to receive free evaluations of whether their roof downspouts, sump pumps or area drains are improperly connected to the city’s sewer system.
If determined to be cost-effective, the City Water Services Department will pay for a licensed pre-qualified plumber to do the repairs.
During heavy rains, storm water entering the sewer system can exceed the capacity of sewer pipes, causing basement sewer backups and diluted raw sewage spilling into local streams and rivers. The city has entered into a $4.5 to $5 billion, 25-year agreement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency to reduce the volume and frequency of such overflows.
Persons may call 816-743-4063 or email email@example.com to request a free evaluation.
Cerner Related Opportunities
Opportunities for new housing and retail development to serve the approximately 16,000 employees expected at the new Cerner Innovations Campus being built at the old Bannister Mall site were highlighted at the August 18 meeting of the South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
The results of a recent survey of Cerner Corporation employees conducted by the South Kansas City Alliance with the assistance of the City Planning & Development Department were explained at the meeting at the Martin Event Space.
Regarding available housing options near the campus, “We don’t have the product these folks are telling us they want,” said Derek Ramsey, Vice President of the Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors.
About two-thirds of survey respondents said they want a single family home less than ten years old and expect to pay $200,000 or more for a home. About half would prefer maintenance-provided homes or communities.
However, there are large tracts of undeveloped land near the campus and a 153-lot single family housing development has been proposed directly west of Jackson Avenue and about a quarter mile north of Red Bridge Road which is now going through the city rezoning process.
Ramsey added that some survey respondents also expressed concerns about the lack of restaurants and other retail services near the campus. One immediate result of the presentation was an inquiry by an attendee to Chamber President Vickie Wolgast about opening a restaurant near the campus.
A new youth after school and weekend drop-in center funded by COMBAT, Jackson County’s anti-drug, anti-violence program, had its grand opening August 15 at Bethel Family Worship Center, 10801 Ruskin Way.
Speaking at the event, Mayor Sly James said communities have a tendency to tell young people where they can’t go, but not give them places to go.
“Every part of the city needs a place for kids to go and be safe and meet their friends,” James said. “Now we have a place here in the south for kids to go and be around good role models and mentors.”
Other speakers at the event included State Senator Jason Holsman and State Representative DaRon McGee, who both grew up in the immediate neighborhood, and City Councilman Scott Taylor.
COMBAT programs are funded through a county-wide quarter-cent sales tax first approved by voters in 1989 and most recently renewed in 2009.
About 760 signs illegally placed in city right of way were picked up in a recent sweep by city crews, according to City Councilman Scott Taylor, author of the ordinance banning such signs.
Taylor said this is a major reduction since the last sign sweep which netted about 4,000 illegal signs, which he said shows the ordinance is working.
He said persons wishing to report illegal signs in the right of way (such as political signs left over from the recent primary election or ‘We Buy Houses Cheap” type of signs) may call the city Action Center at 3-1-1.
Expanding Bus Service
Extending bus routes such as the Prospect route further south and expanding late night and weekend bus service in south Kansas City to serve transit-dependent residents who don’t work traditional 8 to 5 jobs were among the suggestions made at an August 9 hearing at Hillcrest Community Center on updating the metropolitan region’s current long-range transit plan.
One of the goals of updating the plan is to double the number of jobs accessible by public transit over the next ten years. The update is being conducted by the Mid-America Regional Council and area transit agencies.
Kansas City Day at the Capitol
Missouri State Representatives DaRon McGee, Judy Morgan and Gail McCann Beatty are sponsoring their first “Kansas City Day at the Capitol” for Kansas City residents on Tuesday, September 13.
The event will include lunch with the legislators in the capitol rotunda in Jefferson City; tours of the capitol building, the Missouri Supreme Court building and the governor’s mansion; and meetings with State Senators Jason Holsman and Shalonn “Kiki” Curls.
Although persons may drive themselves, many like me are expected to ride Amtrak for the event so they can socialize and enjoy drinks and snacks in the club car along the way. The Missouri River Runner is scheduled to depart from Lee’s Summit at 8:51 a.m. and to arrive in Jefferson City (just a few short blocks from the capitol) at 11:18 a.m. The return train is scheduled to depart Jefferson City at 6:22 p.m. and to arrive in Lee’s Summit at 8:50 p.m. Standard fare is only $22 each way. The fare for seniors 62 and over is $18.70.
There is no cost for the event other than transportation. Persons wishing to attend should RSVP by Friday, September 9, to Representative McGee’s legislative assistant at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31, 6 p.m. – Members of the community may provide feedback on a tentative city plan to improve fair housing opportunities in Kansas City, developed after a first round of community meetings, at Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ, 205 W. 65th Street. Pizza will be served.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – Area residents and business persons are invited to attend the South Kansas City Alliance’s Third Annual Economic Development Summit titled “Planning for our Future Neighbors” that will focus on opportunities for new and renovated housing and new retail services in south Kansas City to accommodate the thousands of new employees coming to the area. This free event at Avila University includes a continental breakfast and lunch.