Community centers like the one at 8200 Hillcrest Rd. would benefit from Question 2 on November's ballot. Photo by Kathy Feist

Two new GO bonds go on November ballot

A tax increase for Children’s Services Fund of Jackson County is also on ballot.

By Max Goodwin

Two general obligation bond questions will be on the November 8 general election ballot in Kansas City. after approval by city council on August 30. 

On Question 1 on the ballot, the city is asking for $50 million that would go to the city’s Housing Trust Fund to subsidize affordable housing. Question 2 asks for $125 million for other city projects. That includes $45 million for repairs and improvements to Bartle Hall and city convention facilities, and $80 million for community centers, swimming pools, and parks.

City Manager Brian Platt said the bond requests would not increase the city’s debt but replace debt that is currently being paid off by the city. The bonds would not increase taxes either, he says. 

Platt said at the September 12th South Kansas City Alliance meeting hat in the long run the tax rate could be lowered while also creating funds for needed repairs

“This will lead to a 5% or so tax decrease over time, while also creating a new pot of money to fund all these needed repairs,” Platt said. He said the decrease is because these bonds being proposed for $175 million would add less debt than will be rolling off in coming years.

The $50 million that would go to the Housing Trust Fund is a priority because there is a housing crisis across Kansas City, Platt said. 

“Those that have been in the industry or the space for years are saying that for the first time they’re seeing families on the street living in tents with young kids,” Platt said. “So it’s incredibly urgent for us to do something about this.”

The $45 million that would pay for improvements to the Bartle Hall Convention Center and complex is also a priority because of the funding it brings through conventions and tourism.

“It’s a major source of revenue and a major tourist attraction to this city,” Platt said. “We’ve got a lot of basic improvements needed at the convention center, anything from fixing the escalators and elevators to the carpeting to some of the technology to make it a world-class national level facility.”

Then there is the $80 million that would be used to repair and improve city parks, community centers, swimming pools, and other facilities. There are ten community centers around Kansas City that are city-owned, and three of them are in South Kansas City. Hillcrest Community Center, Marlborough Community Center, and Southeast Community Center would receive needed repairs. 

The $80 million to be used on community centers and park facilities is part of the same ballot question as the $45 million to be used for convention center improvements. 

Both Questions 1 and 2 are required to receive approval from at least four-sevenths (57.14 percent) of the vote in order to pass in Missouri.

A third question on the November ballot will deal with a new parkway in the northland that has to be realigned. As Tiffany Springs Parkway receives a new alignment, the land for the previous direction of the parkway is no longer needed by the city. The land for the parkway is parkland under the city charter and so requires a vote by residents in order to dispose of the land. 

Children’s Services Fund of Jackson County

Also on the November ballot will be a renewal and increase in funding for the Children’s Services Fund of Jackson County through a one-quarter of a cent sales tax. That is an increase from the current one-eighth of a cent sales tax that built about $14 million in funding to support 97 programs and impact about a third of Kansas City’s youth.

“That pot of money is intended to be reinvested back into the community, and specifically to schools and nonprofits that work with kids in supporting mental health and their social-emotional wellness,” said Executive Director Rob Whitten.

The Children’s Services Fund of Jackson County was first approved by voters in November 2016 and is set to expire in March 2024 unless it is renewed by voters. If approved on the November ballot this election, the Children’s Services Fund would not have an expiration date and would be funded in perpetuity. 


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