By Max Goodwin
There are three measures on the ballot in Kansas City, Mo. that will ask voters to approve funding for city plans. Two general obligation bonds would fund city goals in affordable housing and building up the convention center and parks system of Kansas City.
Question No. 1
Question No. 1 on the ballot for Kansas City, Mo. would issue $150 million in general obligation bonds that would renovate, improve, and equip convention centers, entertainment and recreation facilities, and parks in Kansas City.
If the question is approved by voters, the bond funds would go to maintain and repair Bartle Hall and the parks and pools systems of Kansas City.
City Manager Brian Platt says Kansas City has lost convention business because of the conditions at Bartle Hall. This would allow the city to address $45 million in deferred maintenance for the Kansas City Convention and Entertainment Facilities if approved.
“We’ve been thinking about what we can do to improve our public spaces or open spaces,” Platt said at a meeting of the South Kansas City Alliance in September. “We’ve got a lot of parks in need of improvements. We’ve got our convention center that needs to be brought to the next level.”
Platt said there are a lot of basic improvements at the Bartle Hall Convention Center that are needed. Things like fixing escalators, elevators, carpeting, and technology. This is the time that makes financial sense for the city to make these upgrades and more, Platt said.
“We’ve got a lot of debt that was issued years ago that’s rolling off, meaning we’re finishing paying off all that debt service. We’re thinking what can we do to balance trying to create long-term fiscal stability for the city and also get all of those much-needed repairs and improvements to public facilities?” Platt said.
There is no organized opposition against the ballot measure, just skepticism of the urgency of work on parks and convention in comparison to other potential bond projects.
Because this is a general obligation bond, the measure will require 57 percent of voter approval to pass.
Question No. 2
Question No. 2 would issue $50 million in general obligation bonds to be used for affordable housing through rehabilitation, renovation, and construction of houses and buildings.
It would include blight removal and provide affordable housing for “very low-to-moderate-income households.” The money would go to the City’s already existing Housing Trust Fund.
“That trust fund is created specifically to create or preserve affordable housing in a few different ways,” City Manager Brian Platt said.
“It could be subsidizing housing developments to make sure that the rents can be stabilized to certain limits for lower-income families and individuals. It could be to renovate and preserve existing units that are already affordable and have rent restrictions on them. And it could be you know, vouchers or loans or any other type of financing tool that we can use to create affordable housing units.”
Kansas City’s Housing Trust Fund was created in 2018. Developers and nonprofits can apply for financial help from the city to build and create housing. The city is trying to use it to find creative solutions to a shortage of affordable housing options.
This investment of $50 million is meant to establish 3,000 to 3,500 affordable units over five years and would bring the Housing Trust Fund close to its original goal of $75 million. This measure would also require 57 percent of voters to vote yes for the measure to pass.
Question No. 3
For land to be removed from the Kansas City park system it is required that it receive voter approval. This specific question is for a strip of land that totals about 12 acres to have the road realigned for Tiffany Springs Parkway between NW Prairie View Rd. and Armity Ave. in the Northland. This project would just require a simple majority to be approved.