For the last few months the Kansas City Council’s Finance and Governance and Transportation and Infrastructure joint committee has been working on a proposed infrastructure general obligation (GO) bond that would go before the voters in April for approval.
The GO Bond would be $800 million spread out over 20 years and be used to address maintenance backlog with roads/sidewalks, public buildings, and flood control.
Like many Northlanders, I have great concerns about the bond. My biggest concern is that the first annexed northland neighborhoods that need (and have been waiting 60 years for) basic infrastructure such as curb, storm sewer and sidewalks probably won’t receive any improvements. Yet their property taxes will skyrocket to pay off the bonds.
Earlier this month the Northland Chamber threatened to withhold support without a promise of major road and bridge work in the Northland.
When I hear the chamber talk about road investments this is what I envision they mean – more roads that lead from no place to nowhere.
Take a look at the Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce list of projects they’ve requested KCMO fund the last two years. These are the roadway projects that will probably get completed in the Northland if voters approve the GO Bond. Most of the projects are in Platte County and Twin Creeks.
I’m not surprised by the list of projects. The status que for development in the Northland has always been to sprawl as far out as we possibly can in the pursuit of growth. And our leaders have gone all in.
This growth strategy is unsustainable and has come at a great expense to the taxpayers. The projects requested by the chamber will add more lane miles and capacity to a system City Hall already can’t afford to maintain. Kansas City has a billion-dollar backlog for both sidewalks and roads. To be fair, pretty much everything at City Hall has its own billion-dollar backlog.
In a time of declining revenue available for continued infrastructure operation and maintenance, it only makes sense to stop spreading our resources any thinner by building roads further out. We need to commit to repair, maintain, rehabilitate, reconstruct, and enhance our existing infrastructure first.
I just hope City Hall figures this out before we get any further down the road of insolvency.