How a Chiefs-only sales tax question could work this year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For those wondering whether the Kansas City Chiefs could get another crack at asking voters for sales tax money this year, the answer appears to be yes, but not through the same parks tax that was used for the April 2 Jackson County election that failed by 16%.

Wednesday, FOX4 talked to Jackson County Legislator Manny Abarca, who says he’s proposing a Chiefs-only ballot question for the November election.

There’s a long road to go though, just like there was for the April ballot measure. It’d have to be approved by the county legislature, Jackson County Executive Frank White, unless there’s a veto override, the Chiefs, and then the majority of county voters.

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If all of that happens, the Chiefs could get 3/8ths of a cent in sales tax money or 3/16ths of a cent in sales tax money for its stadium project. The 3/16ths of a cent is the same amount the Chiefs would have gotten had the April election with the Kansas City Royals passed.

Wednesday night, there was a disagreement between Abarca and White as to whether the vote would even be possible. Thursday morning, FOX4 got some answers from Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s office.

Its Communications & Public Relations Specialist Madison Walker sent us Chapter 67 of the Revisor of Missouri:

“If a majority of the votes cast by the qualified voters voting are opposed to the proposal, then the governing body of the county shall have no power to impose the sales tax herein authorized unless and until the governing body of the county shall again have submitted another proposal to authorize the governing body of the county to impose the sales tax authorized by sections 67.550 to 67.570 and such proposal is approved by a majority of the qualified voters voting thereon,” it reads. “However, in no event shall a proposal pursuant to sections 67.550 to 67.570 be submitted to the voters sooner than twelve months from the date of the last proposal pursuant to sections 67.550 to 67.570.”

FOX4 was able to talk to Jackson County Counselor Bryan Covinsky Thursday, who’s appointed by White.

“The parks statute says that it takes a year,” he said, talking about the timeline of another possible vote.

“So, if there’s another statute that would be used for ballot language for tax purposes to support the teams, the one year wouldn’t apply.”

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Another statute that could be used is the capital improvements sales tax, which was used in 2006 when voters approved of the current stadium upgrades for the Chiefs and Royals at the Truman Sports Complex.

That tax doesn’t stop being collected until year 2031.

“I would welcome any opportunity to keep these teams here,” Abarca said Thursday when asked if the tax that goes on the ballot in November has to be a parks tax.

“If that comes from him, if that comes from any of my colleagues, let’s get to work and do this.”

The “him” Abarca was referring to was White. Abarca and White were on opposite sides of the April sales tax vote for the Chiefs and Royals. Abarca voted yes while White voted no.

“I mean, I think it’s a hard offer to refuse,” Abarca continued when asked if he really thought the Chiefs were on board with his proposal.

“If they’re now going to be offered the entire 3/8ths cents in total, that’s something that I think they can’t just snuff their nose at. I think they have to truly consider this as a viable option and look at Jackson County again.”

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A spokesman for the Chiefs wouldn’t comment Thursday though.

“No, so I’ve had conversations with the top leadership of the Royals as well and made them aware of what this plan was and the goal and the intent here, and so they understood,” Abarca said Thursday when asked if his proposal made the Royals mad.

The Royals aren’t commenting either.

“I think what Manny’s legislation really is, is an invitation to the teams to let them know we’re still willing to work on options for them,” Jackson County Legislator Sean Smith said in an interview with FOX4 Thursday.

“I find it an interesting way to communicate that. I think the easier way to communicate it is to simply say on camera, ‘We’re willing to work with you if you want.'”

Abarca also said his proposals won’t be in front of his fellow legislators until Monday, May 13.

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