Mayor James Gets It Wrong
Kansas City Mayor James penned a guest commentary for The Kansas City Star on Wednesday. Unfortunately, it is riddled with errors and half-truths.
The Mayor begins with an assessment of the problem stemming from years of previous city councils failing to spend properly on infrastructure. Then he characterizes his solution thusly:
Over 20 years at approximately $40 million per year, this plan asks everyone in the city to invest through an annual property tax increase on both residential and commercial properties.
If the bond passes on April 4, the city says it will issue 20 different 20-year bonds. The last one will be issued in 2036 and will be paid off in 2055. The GO Bonds commit taxpayers to 40 years of debt, not 20. He also speaks to the cost to taxpayers:
The average residential property owner, with a $140,000 house and a $15,000 car, would see an increase in their property taxes each year for 20 years. That property would see an average of $8 added to their property tax each year. In year 20 that property owner would pay an average of $160 more than they pay today.
Both the Show-Me Institute and the Star have explained that this claim is inaccurate. The City Manager has stated that the cost is closer to $100 a year. The true cost of this bond to the owner of a $140,000 house and $15,000 car would be over $4,100.
The Mayor also refers to a report card that will account for projects and costs, but voters should be wary. If the GO Bond campaign—including this piece by the Mayor—is any indication, the report cards will be designed to present city spending in the best possible light. Remember, this is the same Mayor who refused to have the City’s Water Department audited.
As the Mayor points out, Kansas City is in this situation because important infrastructure and maintenance spending has been neglected. City leaders always find something else they want to fund. Without any significant changes to how City Hall operates—and this measure contains none—why should voters risk increasing their taxes just to see the exact same neglect repeated?