County leader vetoes ballot proposal for 40-year Kansas City stadium sales tax

(The Center Square) – Jackson County Executive Frank White, a member of the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame, vetoed an ordinance placing a 40-year sales tax on the April ballot to support a new major league baseball stadium and renovate the football stadium.

“This proposed sales tax would generate over $2 billion from our residents, yet there is no clear understanding or assurance regarding the teams’ commitments and contributions to the county,” White said in a statement announcing his action on Thursday. “It’s not a good deal for taxpayers and I cannot support an agreement that is not in their best interest.”

After weeks of meetings and negotiations, the Jackson County Legislature voted 8-1 in December to approve placing the extension on the sales tax on the April 2 ballot. It proposed a 3/8 cents sales tax beginning in 2031 and continuing for 40 years. In 2006, a 25-year sales tax of the same amount was approved by voters for improvements to the Harry S Truman Sports Complex, where both stadiums are located.

Earlier this month, Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals and the National Football League’s Chiefs distributed a joint statement announcing their commitment to stay in Jackson County if voters approved the sales tax in April.

County legislative Chair Jeanie Lauer, Vice Chair Megan Marshall, and member-at-large Jalen Anderson issued a joint statement supporting White, stating their intention to sustain his veto and emphasizing the need for more negotiations.

“It is striking to note that the proposed financial commitment to these teams significantly surpasses the combined annual budget allocated for all our parks, playgrounds, trails, roads and bridges,” according to the joint statement.

Manny Abarca, a member of the Jackson County legislature, posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, “it sounds as if the eight votes who supported Jackson County voters deciding in April is changing. Six votes must override a veto, and I would be in support of letting voters decide what should happen …”

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas previously stated that keeping the professional sports teams in Kansas City and continuing to attract international sports and entertainment were priorities. He didn’t immediately post a response to the veto on social media, as he was attending the national mayors’ conference in Washington, D.C., and appeared on stage Thursday with Vice President Kamala Harris discussing gun violence.

“We are not just retaining sports teams,” White said. “We are opening doors to a future where sports investment translates into community prosperity, economic growth and an enhanced quality of life. I am committed to working collaboratively to find a solution that honors our longstanding partnerships while upholding our responsibility to the taxpayers of Jackson County.”

The joint statement from the legislators identified six unresolved issues, including a commitment by the teams to keep front offices, training facilities and essential operations in Jackson County and the teams paying for demolition of stadiums.

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