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More Jackson County legislators push back against White’s stadium tax veto

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Four more Jackson County legislators are sounding off after County Executive Frank White vetoed an ordinance that would put a proposed stadium sales tax on the April ballot.

The ballot question would ask Jackson County voters to approve a 3/8th-cent sales tax for both the Kansas City Royals and the Kansas City Chiefs stadium projects.

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The Royals said they want to build a new ballpark downtown, but they have not specifically said where. The Chiefs said they want an upgrade at Arrowhead Stadium.

Jackson County legislators approved the ordinance in an 8-1 vote on Jan. 8. But 10 days later, four legislators spoke out against the deal. Three of them indicated they would flip their vote, and all four said they would uphold White’s veto at the next meeting.

In a statement, White said getting a favorable deal for Jackson County requires more discussions and negotiations.

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“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,” he said.

“It’s not a good deal for taxpayers, and I cannot support an agreement that is not in their best interest.”

‘Wholeheartedly disagree’

One day later, four other legislators — DaRon McGee, Donna Peyton, Manny Abarca and Vennessa Huskey — argued the decision of whether to keep the Royals and Chiefs in Jackson County belongs to voters.

“Claiming to protect voters from themselves, the county executive has unilaterally determined that he, alone, should decide whether Jackson County should be a major league sports community,” the four legislators said. “We wholeheartedly disagree.”

McGee, Peyton, Abarca and Huskey said White and the other legislators argue too many issues are unresolved. But instead, the four county leaders argue negotiations are in process, and the Chiefs and Royals have made several financial concessions.

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Earlier this month, the Royals and Chiefs committed to staying in Jackson County — pending voters’ approval of a sales tax extension.

The teams said they would provide over $200 million in economic benefits.

That includes paying for insurance coverages the county currently pays, a $80-100 million savings; reallocating their park property tax to save the county $140 million; and committing to a “robust” community benefits agreement.

McGee, Peyton, Abarca and Huskey noted the county would only collect the 3/8th-cent sales tax after the teams execute binding agreements, and the county legislature would approve those agreements after a public hearing.

The four legislators argued if this matter doesn’t go before voters in April, Jackson County risks losing both teams.

Override?

Jackson County lawmakers now have just a few days left to vote on a potential override of White’s veto.

The Jackson County Legislature is set to meet again Monday. There’s a 5 p.m. Jan. 23 deadline to get this issue on the ballot for the April 2 election.

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The four votes to uphold the veto — if they go unchanged by next week — would not be enough to secure a 6-3 supermajority and override White’s decision.

But Laurer, Marshall and Anderson stressed in their statement that there are seven years left on the Chiefs and Royals’ current leases at the Truman Sports Complex. There are also several other election dates available in 2024, the legislators noted.

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