Patrick Ishmael
For our regular readers, the fact that the Kansas City Power & Light District (P&LD) is hemorrhaging taxpayer money is no surprise. For those just finding out about the problems that have beset P&LD over the last few years, the Wall Street Journal's report on the city's budgetary mismanagement is as sobering as it is galling. The headline puts it succinctly: "Urban Center Is Budget Hole." (Video via Tony's Kansas City.)

The P&LD was a bet made in the 2000s that will cost the city $10 million-plus per year for years to come. Yet, the city refuses to learn its lesson. Kansas City officials persist in pursuing a massive new publicly-financed hotel project downtown and  an expensive new streetcar system that will burden local businesses with taxes they do not want. We are talking about a city with one of the worst debt loads and tax levels in the region, and the solution — with the benefit of hindsight — is more debt and higher taxes? Pair it with the ongoing border war the city has with its Kansas rivals, and it is clear that the city is not embarking on a credible development strategy, but a road to ruin.

Oscar Wilde wrote in The Picture of Dorian Gray that "there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about." Kansas City is getting its press for sure, but as it does its best to keep up appearances with its spend-spend-spend strategy, it ratchets up the risk of debasing its tax resources, wrapped within that thin, debt-laden facade. On the outside, things may look good. On the inside, the city is almost assuredly disfiguring itself, one act at a time.

About the Author

Patrick Ishmael
Director of Government Accountability

Patrick Ishmael is the director of government accountability at the Show-Me Institute.