The Kansas City Council last week asked a Jackson County Circuit Court judge to support its bid to block Clay Chastain’s $2.5 billion light-rail ballot initiative.
Chastain, a Virginia-based transit activist who has pushed several proposals to build light rail in the city, gathered the required signatures, but the city won’t put the measure to a vote, contending that the plan is unconstitutional because the funding mechanism won’t cover the construction and operation of the system.
The plan for a 22-mile system would impose a sales tax of three-eighths of a cent to raise $1 billion for the project, with the rest covered by the state and federal governments and private donations.
Supporters of Chastain’s plan argue that the city charter requires the council to put the measure on the ballot because it has the required signatures. The City Council, which wants the court to issue a declaratory judgment to support its action, has expressed interest in a more modest $100 million streetcar plan.