December 30, 2010
With the holidays quickly winding down and the New Year upon us, it’s a good time to take a moment to assess the importance of 2011 for the City of Kansas City, Missouri. In the next four months, city voters will make extremely important decisions on the mayoral office, for city council, and whether or not to retain the earnings tax – the city’s largest source of revenue.
Kansas City’s primary election is February 22 – less than 8 weeks away. At present count, 7 individuals are vying to be mayor with an additional 32 candidates running to fill 6 City Council seats. The Council number is even more startling when you consider there are currently 4 seats that are being uncontested, meaning 28 people are trying to win 8 seats. Expect a wild and bumpy ride for both the primary and general elections.
The Chamber will be hosting two mayoral debates, entitled “Debates on the 8’s” on February 8 and March 8, respectively. The next mayor of Kansas City will have to deal with some incredibly daunting issues, including the implementation of the $2.5 billion combined sewer overflow control program, whether or not to build a new 1,000 downtown convention hotel, and the 4th straight year of large budget cuts. In addition, a determination needs to be made on whether or not to make Troy Schulte the permanent City Manager. Schulte has been serving on an interim basis for over a year now. He in turn needs to hire a new water services director, an assistant city manager, and other key positions.
Finally, the e-tax. It may strike many as hyperbole to state the e-tax election will be the most important city election in decades. But it’s true. The earnings tax has provided a steady stream of revenue – over $200 million annually, even during the deep recession – that Kansas City relies on to provide essential city services such as police and fire protection, maintenance of city streets and code enforcement. Kansas City simply cannot afford to lose this stable, equitable source of revenue.
So, Kansas City voters, the future is in your hands. I am confident that you will make the right choices that will help propel Kansas City into the new decade and beyond.