The general election is on approach, and Kansas Citians will see two questions on their ballots about bond measures.
City leaders propose issuing $175 million of bond debt to spend on local parks and amenities, the Kansas City Convention Center, and affordable housing.
General obligation (GO) bonds are paid off using property tax. Past debt for major investments (think: Power & Light + the T-Mobile Center) is rolling off (it’s paid off).
“Our proposal here is to issue new debt that doesn’t quite match what was rolling off,” City Manager Brian Platt told KCtoday.
Since the proposed amount is ~5% lower than the previous debt, Platt said voting yes will still result in a property tax decrease while retaining quality community amenities.
“We’re trying to find the balance of issuing more debt to pay for things that we need while also not breaking the bank and giving some of that back to the taxpayers of the city,” he said.
The first measure asks if KCMO should issue $125 million in debt for public parks and the convention center.
$85 million would go to public facilities over five years: improving 10 community centers, reopening public pools, and fixing broken fountains. The remaining $40 million would upgrade the convention center. Visit KC reported the center has missed out on ~$62 million since 2016 due to poor conditions.
“There’s issues in the convention center where we have to run extension cords across the floor because the outlets don’t work and the carpet is pulling up from the ground,” Platt said.
The second measure would provide $50 million for the Housing Trust Fund — a program that provides affordable housing for low-income households.
The investment would help fulfill the city’s plan to raise $75 million for the trust fund by 2023, and it would be “the city’s first substantial, locally generated investment in housing,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said.
Manager Platt said this funding would also help reduce homelessness.
Notable endorsements for both bond issues come from the Kansas City Chamber and The Civic Council of Greater Kansas City.