County Legislators Override Executive Frank White
Legislators in Jackson County, Missouri, voted Monday to override the veto of Jackson County Executive Frank White and place the renewal of a sales tax on the April ballot to help fund a new ballpark for the Kansas City Royals.
The tax of three-eighth of a cent, which is used under the current lease agreement for stadium upkeep at the Truman Sports Complex, also would help pay for future renovations to Arrowhead Stadium for the Kansas City Chiefs.
As recently as last week, it appeared there would not be enough votes to override the veto. But legislators Jalen Anderson and Sean Smith changed their minds after an outpouring of public pressure, and after continued negotiations with the teams, and the result was a 7-2 vote in favor of advancing the proposal to the April 2 ballot.
“I am grateful that so many of my colleagues joined me in voting the overturn,” said Jackson County legislator DaRon McGee, who called White's decision to veto the proposal “tone deaf" by taking away the rights of voters to make their own decisions.
White was a five-time All-Star for the Royals and is a member of their Hall of Fame.
“Thanks to overwhelming support from our citizens, including business, labor, nonprofit and other community organizations, we prevailed, and can now proceed to do the important work ahead,” McGee said. “There is much work to do so that the voters are fully informed before the April election. I join my colleagues in saying we are prepared to do that work.”
Legislators initially voted 8-1 to approve ballot language for the tax, but White said in vetoing it that “it’s not a good deal for taxpayers” because it did not provide enough assurance of the franchises’ commitment to the county.
The Royals and Chiefs released a joint statement after White’s veto that said they respected his authority but that “we will continue working with the legislators to ensure that this ordinance is on the ballot.” The teams also ramped up their social and traditional media campaigns for public support, and they had support of many commerce groups and labor unions.
“We took an important step forward today,” the teams said in a statement Monday. “We thank Jackson County legislators for their attention and care in this matter. We look forward to continuing to work with them and enabling the voters to decide on extending the longstanding partnership between the county and our teams on April 2.”
The Royals had been weighing competing offers from Jackson County and Clay County, which sits just across the Missouri River, for locations for their new ballpark. They intended to make their decision in September but pushed it back indefinitely, and only in recent weeks have said they plan to build in Jackson County.
They still have not decided on a site, though. The initial plan was to build in an area known as the East Village, but they are also considering a location closer to the Power & Light District, where there are existing shops and restaurants.
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Gallery Credit: Rob Carroll