MO: Supporters of Clay Chastain Submit Own Ballot Language for Light-Rail Vote

June 30--Clay Chastain's supporters on Monday submitted proposed ballot language for a light-rail initiative that Chastain says is more reasonable than the city's.

Chastain and the city are at odds over how a proposal should read on the November ballot to deal with Chastain's 2011 light-rail initiative. Jackson County Circuit Judge Sandra Midkiff is weighing the wording options.

Chastain gathered petition signatures in 2011 that asked voters to support quarter-cent and eighth-cent sales tax increases for 25 years to help pay for a massive citywide ligh-rail, commuter rail and streetcar system. Kansas City Council members refused to put the measure on the 2011 ballot, saying the taxes would not raise enough money to build the system.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled in February that the only ballot questions required were for the proposed tax increases, and no specific project was mandated to be built.

Last week, the city attorney's office submitted proposed language that followed a strict reading of the Supreme Court ruling. The proposal would ask voters whether they want to approve the tax increases but would not mention the words "light rail."

Chastain cried foul and said Monday that the city "submitted unfair deliberately confusing ballot language to the court."

A lawyer for Chastain's supporters on Monday submitted language that would ask voters to impose the sales taxes "in order to fund the nonbinding plan to construct a multimodal light-rail-based regional transit system headquartered at Union Station."

Chastain said that language is reasonable, consistent with the Supreme Court's ruling and honors the intent of those who signed his petitions.

City officials declined to comment and said they would wait for the judge's decision.

To reach Lynn Horsley, call 816-226-2058 or send email to lhorsley@kcstar.com.

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