Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Streetcar opponents apparently not done opposing streetcars

Posted By on Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 5:34 PM

This streetcars heading to the courthouse
  • File
  • This streetcar is heading to the courthouse.

Well, you could see this coming. The downtown Kansas City, Missouri, business owners who thought so little of the streetcar idea that they sued to stop it are looking for another day in court.

Lee's Summit lawyer Mark Bredemeier announced on Tuesday that his clients would seek to appeal a Jackson County judge's decision earlier this year to dismiss their lawsuit, which challenged whether the streetcar's funding mechanism was legal.

Specifically, Sue Ann Burke, a River Market businesswoman, and Stretch, owner of Grinders, say Missouri law doesn't allow KC to pass a downtown transportation development district on top of one that already exists.

Transportation development districts allow businesses within them to charge higher sales taxes to help pay for transportation-related costs. In this case, the extra revenue would help offset the $100 million cost for the two-mile streetcar line connecting the River Market to Crown Center.

The Stretch lawsuit also protested how the election took place. Passing the TDD and the property assessments involved a mail-in ballot system that allowed only residents within the TDD to vote. This annoyed some of the businesses that ended up on the hook to pay the property assessments. But that legal challenge was bounced in part because, the judge ruled, it wasn't filed in time.

Bredemeier says his clients are ready to make another run at the courts.

"As we've stated before, this unusual funding mechanism election scheme has been characterized as worrisome, troubling and undemocratic," Bredemeier writes in a statement. "We will ask the court of appeals to reverse this dismissal and remand these legal and constitutional claims back to the trial court so that we can obtain a decision on the merits of this lawsuit."

Kansas City Mayor Sly James responded this afternoon with annoyance: "We have won this issue three times in front of the courts and any delay cost to the city in money and time we will not take lightly."

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