Kansas City, Mo. Voters on Tuesday rejected a proposal to impose a quarter-cent sales tax in five Kansas City-area counties to renovate stadiums used by the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals and to promote the arts.
It was one of several contentious local issues facing voters in Missouri and Kansas at the polls Tuesday.
The sales tax proposal was on ballots in Jackson, Clay, and Platte counties in Missouri and Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas. To pass, the tax had to be approved by Jackson, Clay and Johnson counties. Platte and Wyandotte counties would have levied the tax only if it passed in those two counties.
Voters in Jackson County -- the home of the stadiums and a proposed new arts center -- approved the tax, with 54.6 percent in favor and 45.4 percent opposed, according to complete but unofficial results. But voters in all four of the other counties rejected the proposal.
In Clay County, the tax was rejected 53 percent to 47 percent; in Johnson County, it was defeated 55 percent to 45 percent. The tax also failed in Platte County, 52 percent to 48 percent, and was resoundingly defeated in Wyandotte County, with 63 percent opposed and 37 percent in support, according to unofficial returns.
Opponents, who ran a mostly grass-roots campaign, said the tax would have cost too much and the plan did not include enough accountability for spending the money.
Tracy Thomas, of Shawnee, said she founded Johnson County First because of the arrogance of the tax's supporters.
"We stood up for the little guy," Thomas said. "We were outspent 100 to 1. It was very difficult to stand up to the rich guys who wanted their hobbies subsidized."
Supporters of the proposal tried to put the best face on the defeat. "The vote was not successful, but I think the effort to move the community forward was very successful," said Peter Levi, president of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. "We got people in the metro area working together on a very important issue, understanding the importance of sports and arts."
Levi said he believed the proposal failed because being taxed to support arts and sports was a new idea that "takes some time for people to recognize and understand."
The tax was expected to raise about $1.2 billion over 12 to 15 years, with half going to the stadiums and half for the arts.
In other local issues:
l Wichita voters were divided over a 1 percent sales tax to finance a $185.4 million downtown sports arena. With incomplete results from 100 of 211 precincts, the tax had 52 percent support.
l In Topeka, a measure to form a commission to consider the consolidation of the Topeka and Shawnee County governments apparently was defeated. Preliminary results from all but two of 190 precincts showed support for the measure at just 41 percent.
l In Columbia, Mo., early election results had voters moving the city toward green energy and approving two measures that would decriminalize the use of marijuana.
The green energy initiative would require the city of Columbia to begin using electricity from renewable or "green" power sources and build on that momentum every five years until 2022. One marijuana initiative would permit the use of medical marijuana; the other would make possession of a small amount of marijuana a misdemeanor offense.