The new streetcar development district board decided today that the second election, seeking specific taxes to raise local funds for a downtown streetcar system, should be a mail-in ballot.
The board is headed by Kansas City Mayor Sly James and also includes Matthew Staub, a downtown residential property owner; George Wolf, chair of the Port Authority; and Jeff Krum, a commercial property owner.
Today was the TDD board's first meeting, after voters approved creation of a special taxing district for downtown streetcars, running from the River Market to Union Station.
But another election must happen to ratify the actual taxes that would be imposed in the downtown district to help pay the local portion of the streetcar cost.
The board opted for another mail-in election, open only to registered voters living within the downtown streetcar boundaries. The exact time frame for the election is not yet finalized, but it likely will have people requesting ballots between Aug. 30 and Oct. 2. Those ballots would then be mailed in between Oct. 30 and Dec. 11.
The last mail-in election featured only about 500 registered voters, or about 15 percent of the active registered voters.
David Johnson, who assisted with the last mail-in election, said the perception was that it was "suspect" because it was an unusual process and set a "high bar" for participation.
But supporters of the mail-in ballot said no one who wanted to vote was excluded, and people who voted were very focused on this issue. Putting the measure on the Nov. 6 ballot, they said, would put the streetcar issue far down on the Presidential election ballot and might not get voters who truly care about this issue.
The ballot will seek voter approval for a 1-cent sales tax increase. It will also seek approval for a property tax increase of 48 cents per $100 of assessed valuation on commercial properties and a property tax increase of 70 cents per $100 of assessed valuation on residential properties. An additional special assessment would be levied on some non-profits and on surface parking lots.