Kansas City’s City Council set a process in motion Thursday to meet a deadline this summer for $25 million in crucial federal funding for a streetcar line in the city.
“Time is not a luxury,” Transportation Committee Chairman Russ Johnson said. “We need to have our game plan well figured out and being executed.”
The council called for creation of a special downtown streetcar taxing district. Voters in the district would eventually be asked to support higher taxes on residents and businesses to pay for the local costs of the line, estimated at $100 million.
If the city doesn’t put the local funding authority in place soon, Johnson said, it eliminates the chance to build streetcars by 2015 and probably pushes that back to 2017 at the earliest.
Mayor Sly James was in Washington Thursday and absent from the council meeting, but he praised the council’s vote in an emailed statement.
“We are closer than we have ever been to having a modern, efficient downtown streetcar line in Kansas City,” he said. “I honestly believe people are beginning to feel the momentum.”
Bill Dietrich, executive director of the Downtown Council, told council members Thursday that his organization is “very excited by the possibilities” of downtown streetcars. But he said his board also has concerns, including about the Port Authority’s involvement and the proposed tax increases.