Saturday, January 12, 2019

When City Council fails to listen to their constituents.

Today I'm sharing the statement from the petitioners who were trying to repeal a new Community Improvement District (CID) because I think it's important to know what happens when City Council fails to listen to their constituents.

I have outlined in two different blog posts an experience I had with my City Council Representatives, Councilman Scott Taylor (6th District At-Large) and Kevin McManus (6th District) as the leader of a prominent neighborhood with over 3,300 homes, easily one of the largest associations in the entire City. We are organized and passionate about our community, yet these two councilmen completely failed to work with us on this situation.

Part 1-

Part 2- 

Now for the continuation of the story (below) which is what happened with the petition (not successful) and why it is so important to have a city council who listens to us and actually wants to work with us before passing an ordinance even when we are trying to get them to slow down.

Once an ordinance is in place, it takes many people working together night and day to get 3,417 signatures minimum to repeal it.

Compare that to the fact that all Councilman Taylor needed to do was to hold this off of the meeting agenda when we asked him to in order to have a community meeting.

And because he didn't, several petitioners spent days over the course of the holiday season when they would rather be home and cozy spending time with loved ones.

This is completely un-called for and I for one will NOT be voting for him for Mayor because it is clear to me that he has no intention of ever listening to me or anyone else unless they have deep pockets and carry the title of "Developer".

Following is the statement from petitioners:

A new Community Improvement District (also known as a CID) was passed by Kansas City Council with 10 votes in favor and will increase sales tax by 1% for 20 years (to be automatically renewed for 20 years for a total of 40 years) to pay for improvements to the area.

While most residents in Waldo want to see the property improve, many take strong objection to being asked to foot the bill and a petition initiative was launched to try and repeal ordinance 180916 (also known as the Wornall Village CID).

The Wornall Village CID Petitioners spent many days working to collect signatures for our referendum petition.  Our efforts were primarily to bring more transparency to the new taxing district, which is layered on top of another CID, without the knowledge or vote of the people who shop there.  

Unfortunately, due to cold weather conditions and the holidays, there were simply not enough signatures to meet the threshold by the required deadline (January 13, 2019) to repeal the ordinance and put it to a vote.

Even though we were disappointed in the overall outcome, we believe that there was enough interest generated to move forward with an effort to try to reform the way CIDs are created throughout the whole city and would urge our City Council to take action to create a new ordinance to address these glaring issues:
  1. There currently is no limit to how many CIDs can be installed in one area.
  2. There is no minimum requirement for how many property owners should be in charge of a CID.
  3. There is no accountability for property owners who allow their property to become blighted in order to qualify for a CID.
  4. Since this is a sales tax, there should also be a public notice placed outside the area for a minimum of 30 days to allow for people to learn about the tax.
  5. There should also be at least one public meeting that is hosted by the council person who is sponsoring the ordinance with plenty of notice for all people who live around the proposed district to plan to attend.
  6. There should be a vote by the property owners who surround the proposed district, similar to what has to be done with a transportation district.
We are currently researching which CIDs currently are not reporting their annual financial budget as required by the State of Missouri, and will be reporting those to the appropriate people and asking our City Council to hold these CIDs accountable for their lack of communication.

The bottom line is that we will not turn a blind eye to future CIDs and will do everything in our power to make sure more restrictions are put in place to protect the voters.

Please make sure you remember these CIDs when deciding whether to vote for the Mayor’s new sales tax this April.

We would like to thank everyone who signed and would like to invite you to pay attention to the efforts put forth by the Coalition for Kansas City Economic Development Reform and the work that they are doing which is in alignment to this issue.