Kansas City Star. September 30, 2021.
Editorial: Quinton Lucas and City Council Allies Bet Big on Canadian Company in KCI Concession Battle
It was a day of chaos and frustration at City Hall on Wednesday. Two city council members walked out of a committee hearing, Mayor Quinton Lucas zoomed in during an emergency vote, boos and applause echoed alternately in the council chamber.
There was smoke. But in the end, however, there was clarity: the full board will vote next week on the controversial Kansas City International Airport concession contract with Vantage Airport Group and its partners.
It is hard to overstate the bitterness in the fight for airport concessions. Council members – and reporters – were inundated for weeks with allegations of secrecy, misleading claims, suggested conflicts of interest and general scheming.
“We believe it should be an open and transparent process,” lawyer Roxsen Koch said on Wednesday, on behalf of a losing supplier. “It wasn’t that.”
What this was reminiscent of the fight between Edgemoor, Burns & McDonnell and AECOM over the original airport development agreement.
And we can say this: The Vantage proposition may or may not be the best of the five on the table. But it is clearly the riskiest business. He rejects proven airport concession operators in favor of a more fuzzy business model and a developer with more limited experience.
“The model (from the developers) is not working,” airport concessionaire Elliott Threatt told the committee on Wednesday.
It’s a big bet. Like all bets, it can pay off. Or Vantage could struggle, and voters (and travelers) will know who to blame.
Three members of the city council transport committee voted on Wednesday to move Vantage’s proposal forward: Kevin O’Neill, Eric Bunch and Melissa Robinson. Two members, Teresa Loar and Katheryn Shields, left the meeting, trying to deny quorum to Vantage supporters and delay the vote.
Calling Quinton Lucas! An emergency appeal was made to the out-of-town mayor, who quickly zoomed in to provide a quorum and the crucial fourth vote to send the Vantage plan to the entire council.
“This question deserves a public vote,” Lucas said. “I don’t like to beat a quorum to try to escape our responsibility.”
Skeptics insist the Vantage plan promises things it can’t deliver: millions more to the Aviation Department, a solid inclusion of minority stores and restaurants, and a full opening when the new terminal will start to work.
Some of Vantage’s local suppliers are struggling financially now, even before the airport opens.
Even Vantage supporters concede that his plan will not survive intact. “Someone is going to fail,” said Kim Randolph of the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce, referring to local salespeople at the airport. Vantage, she said, is trying to prevent this.
Kansas City will know the overall results of all of this in March 2023, when the new terminal opens. Assuming Vantage is chosen, its initial promises will have to be kept, or not, over the next 18 months.
It’s just a few weeks before Bunch, O’Neill, and Robinson were re-elected. If terminals are not open, if minority participation is low, if funding is a mess – if airport concessions are a mess – voters can hold them accountable.
No one risks more than Lucas. It was the deciding vote on Wednesday. He pushed Vantage for a while. He appointed City Councilor Dan Fowler to the Concession Selection Committee and defended him against conflicts of interest.
In the past, we’ve accused Lucas of taking both sides on any issue. In 2021, however, Lucas chose only one side, on police funding in May and now on the biggest contract for the biggest project in Kansas City.
The airport concession contract is upon him, and voters can and should judge him accordingly.
Jefferson City Newsstand. October 2, 2021.
Editorial: The new gasoline tax? It is optional.
It’s not often that the government puts in a tax and then gives you a loophole to avoid paying it. But that’s exactly what the Missouri legislature did in crafting compromises to get the state’s new gas tax legislation approved.
It’s not often that the government puts in a tax and then gives you a loophole to avoid paying it.
But that’s exactly what the Missouri legislature did in crafting compromises to get the state’s new gas tax legislation approved.
As we recently reported, the tax increases the price that Missouri drivers pay on gasoline by an additional 2.5 cents per gallon each year through 2025, for a total of 12.5 cents per gallon.
A provision in the law allows Missouri drivers to claim an exemption and a refund for the next fiscal year. To do this, you must show what you paid in fuel tax.
Drivers must provide: the identification number of the vehicle to which the fuel was delivered, the date of sale, the names and addresses of the buyer and seller, the number of gallons purchased and the number of gallons purchased and billed for the Missouri fuel tax as a separate item.
Motorists will not be able to request a refund until next July, when the Ministère du Revenu will have online refund request forms.
The tax went into effect on Friday, so you can start recording your receipts now.
The ability to get a refund is actually a neat way to basically tax out-of-state residents and Missourians who can afford it.
Here’s why: It’s estimated that nearly 40% of traffic on Missouri’s roads comes from out-of-state motorists. But the vast majority of them will not ask for a refund.
For Missourians, your refund claim may depend on what you can save the most: time or money. If you have a high income and work long hours, it probably won’t be worth it. But if you pinch a few pennies, it’ll be a pretty easy way to grab a few bucks.
Even if it is not worth your time now, it could be later as more taxes are implemented every year.
Make no mistake about it: Missouri needs a potential $ 450 million per year for transportation funding. But the refund option will help Missourians struggling to make ends meet.
Saint-Joseph News Press. October 3, 2021.
Editorial: Civic Arena All-in
The city of St. Joseph and Missouri Western State University must have done a good job hosting four previous NCAA Division II women’s basketball tournaments in that city – the last time in 2011 – as Civic Arena begins to run. show his age.
In a previous interview, the director of St. Joseph’s parks said diplomatically, “There are some things we could do to soften that up a bit to make it a little more inviting environment.
Translation: Entering this facility is like entering a bunker.
It hasn’t always been that way. The Civic Arena opened 41 years ago today, October 4, 1980, with a pre-season NBA basketball game. Other events in the building’s first six months included the Black Sabbath, Brenda Lee and Cheap Trick concerts (separate events), professional wrestling, Ice Madness, Royal Lipizzan Stallions, and Harlem Globetrotters.
These days seem as dated as the Walkman cassette players or the “CHiPs” episodes.
But the St. Joseph Civic Arena is receiving much-needed attention and public funding, ahead of another major NCAA basketball tournament in just 18 months in March 2023. The facility is expected to receive $ 1 million in the new tax. on the parks for a new scoreboard, basketball goals, digital scorer tables and seats.
In addition, the arena should receive $ 500,000 for new lighting, $ 400,000 for a roof and $ 220,000 for ground pits. It’s just tourist tax. City council also authorized $ 1 million in American Rescue Act funding for improvements.
All of this attention came after the city faced a choice as the Civic Arena entered the midlife crisis age. Either invest considerable funds in major renovations or build a brand new event center to anchor downtown.
The allure of something new is always great, but our city fell in step with the old when it put local and federal tax dollars on the civic arena.
It was the right decision, the best use of limited resources, and a realistic assessment of the current downtown situation. The casino has shown no public interest in relocating and the Downtown Hotel looks like something “Escape from New York”, if you want to make another reference from the early 1980s.
And yet the Civic Arena, like anyone in their 40s, sometimes feels the sting of wandering ailments. People will see event centers in Sioux City, Iowa, or Independence, Missouri, and feel the allure of something more modern. They’ll say, “Why can’t we have this? “
We cannot have it because it is not what voters were promised during the election of the park tax. Additionally, other candidates had to accept a no for an answer when the city granted additional funding from the federal relief act.
Happy birthday, Civic Arena. We’re here for the long haul now.