- Associated Press - Friday, November 13, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Kansas City Council has decided that citizen petitions seeking a public vote on a proposed convention hotel are illegal and should not go on an upcoming ballot.

The Kansas City Star reports (https://bit.ly/1Y8QW9b ) the council on Thursday voted against putting the question on the ballot because it undermines already signed, binding contracts with hotel developers, and contains other legal flaws.

“What is being asked of us to do is not lawful,” Councilman Dan Fowler said before the council voted against putting the petition to voters.

City Attorney Bill Geary said the petitions would require an election for any hotel near the convention center that uses any form of tax-increment financing. Governance over such tax-increment financing is granted to the council by the state. State law allows what the initiative petition attempts to prohibit, Geary said, so it is unconstitutional on its face and should not go on the ballot.

Citizens for Responsible Government spokesman Dan Coffey says his group, a driving force behind the petition, will have to meet soon and discuss how to respond to the council’s decision. The group, which turned in the petition in September, says the public should get a vote on such a large public investment.

Mike Burke, an attorney for the developers, says the project remains in some doubt until the petition issue is put to rest.

About $164 million of funds for the hotel would come from public funding sources, including cash, land and redirection of public taxes into the project, but will not add to the city’s debt.

Mayor Sly James and other project supporters have said that the deal was the best the city could get for the convention hotel, and that the hotel is urgently needed to keep Kansas City competitive for major conventions and other tourism business.

The petitioners may try to seek a court order to compel the council to put the hotel financing on an election ballot next year.


Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com

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