Building A Better Streetcar Proposal
I have lodged my complaints for a long time regarding Kansas City’s $100 million trolley proposal. In short, it is yet another unnecessary government-centric development proposal that would raise taxes on residents and business owners already enduring some of the highest tax rates in the Midwest.
There is, of course, another (and better) way to fund this trolley, and the Kansas City Star’s Lewis Diuguid articulates it quite clearly: private funding.
So instead of heaping more taxes on those folks, Mayor Sly James and the City Council should begin an all-out, metrowide streetcar fundraising drive. Fundraisers helped build other great bricks-and-mortar things for the city.
The Central Library downtown is a wonderful example. So is the addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
People contributed to the construction of the Kauffman Center and the World War I Museum. Corporations metrowide, foundations and individuals could do the same for streetcars.
Private fundraising for ostensibly public projects is not a new idea, and as Diuguid highlights, that is especially true for Kansas City.
The city’s proposal already contemplates user fees and advertising to supplement the public financing component. Shouldn’t the Kansas City Council take the next step and explore the possibility of philanthropy and private investment, and work to remove the public component? And if there is neither a private nor philanthropic interest in building the streetcar, doesn’t that say something about the merits of the project?