A group of businesses and business owners has filed suit in Jackson County court challenging the financing of the streetcar line downtown.
The lawsuit claims Missouri law allows collection of no more than one cent in sales tax from a transportation development district. The streetcar district levies that one cent tax.
But the suit says the Power and Light District already collects that one cent -- for the project itself. The streetcar, the lawsuit claims, illegally "stacks" one district on top of another in order to exceed the state's one-penny limit.
"If the statutory limit of one percent can be exceeded by the simply device of forming multiple...districts encompassing the same property, the statutory limit has no meaning at all," the lawsuit argues.
The suit also challenges the constitutionality of the system for voting on the streetcar district. The system, the lawsuit claims, violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Constitution.
The suit asks the court to invalidate the tax collections for the district.
"This is 'taxation without representation; at its worst because the vast majority of people and businesses who have to cough up these additional sales taxes and property assessments were denied the right to vote on them, which is unfair and, we believe, unconstitutional," said a statement from plaintiffs' attorney Mark Bredemeier.