Question 4: Helping the Severely Distressed Inner City Area
By John Sharp
Question 4 would impose a citywide one-eighth cent sales tax for ten years beginning October 1 to fund economic development projects within the area bounded by 9th St. on the north, Gregory Blvd. on the south, the Paseo on the west and Indiana on the east.
This proposal, put on the ballot through initiative petition, is estimated by proponents to generate approximately $8.5 million annually which could be used to provide initial funding to leverage large economic development projects.
A 5-member economic development tax board appointed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council would be tasked with considering economic development projects and making recommendations concerning them to the Council. Funding for such projects would have to be approved by the Council, and would be reimbursed by proceeds from the bonds.
The campaign for Question 4, labeled “One City” was explained to a SKCA meeting on March 13 by Dr. Gayle Holliday, board chair of Freedom, Inc., who said, “You can’t have a great Kansas City if you have areas that are depressed and in need of renewal.”
Ken Bacchus, another speaker at the meeting who is board chair of the Urban Summit and vice president of Southland Progress, said the proposal is a pilot program, that if proven to work well, could be expanded to other areas of the city suffering from economic disinvestment such as the Ruskin area.
While I would have preferred it if this proposal targeted all severely distressed census tracts in the city, not just one centralized area, there is no doubt that central city blight negatively impacts the entire city. It fosters criminal activity and tarnishes the city’s image as a good place to live and to do business.
We shouldn’t have to hope that potential business investors and residents don’t see certain parts of our city when making decisions on whether to locate in Kansas City.