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Petitioners Demand Kansas City Convention Hotel Vote, Spell Out Legal Position

In the battle over tax breaks for developers of a downtown Kansas City convention hotel, the ball is once again in the city's court.

The committee of petitioners hand-delivered a letter to the City Clerk on Thursday spelling out in some detail legal arguments that the City Council did not have the right to refuse to honor petition signatures calling for a public vote on the city's financial underwriting of the hotel. 

The letter cites specific sections of the Missouri Constitution as well as court decisions in Missouri and federal courts.

Essentially, the committee contends that the city fails to prove that the ballot measure is fully unconstitutional “on its face” and instead relies on possible consequences of certain ways of interpreting the ballot measure.

The committee also argues that allowing a public vote does not prohibit the city from exercising its role in approving tax increment financing, but merely might add another layer to the process in future city financial support of hotel projects.

The letter also demands that the council respond at its next meeting by putting the measure on the ballot at the earliest possible date. 

The council formally acknowledged receipt of the letter at its Thursday afternoon meeting, but has not taken any action.

In most cases, the earliest council action on written communications is at the next meeting after it formal acknowledges of receipt. 

The council is not meeting next Thursday because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Steve Bell is afternoon news anchor and business news reporter for KCUR.  He may be reached at 816-235-5173 or steveb@kcur.org

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