January 19, 2024
RE: Veto Override of Ordinance 5822
Dear Residents of Jackson County:
Central to the democratic process is the right of voters – not out-of-touch politicians – to make the ultimate decisions on significant issues. By issuing a veto of Ordinance 5822 to retain the Chiefs and Royals in Jackson County, the County Executive is doing just that. Claiming to protect voters from themselves, the County Executive has unilaterally determined that he, alone, should decide whether Jackson County should continue to be a major league sports community. We wholeheartedly disagree. The right to decide whether to keep the Chiefs and the Royals in Jackson County by extending a sales tax belongs solely to the voters, not the County Executive who leads a property tax debacle now subject to a state investigation and multiple lawsuits.
In service to Jackson County voters, our proper role as elected officials is to develop a favorable deal with each of the Teams. The written statements of the County Executive and his allies suggest that too many issues remain unresolved, so taxpayers should be content to pay another seven years of substantial expense under the existing leases. In reality, significant negotiations are in process and the Teams have already made many major financial concessions to the existing leases.
- The Teams agree to forego millions in park levy taxes currently reserved for stadium expenses. Under the current leases, the redirection of this park levy prevents Jackson County from making improvements to park facilities in dire need of repair.
- The Teams agree to absorb the full cost of insurance of the stadiums. Under the current leases, insurance is an expense to Jackson County taxpayers.
- The Teams agree to share certain revenues generated by the stadiums with the County. There is no such requirement under the current leases. With this new revenue, the taxpayers can provide input on how the funds are used.
- The Teams agree to enter into community benefit agreements to support causes that are priorities of the community, such as affordable housing, workforce development, and transportation. The Urban League has convened a roundtable of respected community organizations. They are working collaboratively with the Teams to develop priorities for robust community benefits agreements, and binding community benefits agreements will be available to the public for input before the April vote. For the County Executive and his allies to claim no progress has been made toward this effort is disrespectful and dismissive to those who have worked diligently, for long hours, to lead the charge.
- The Teams agree to invest hundreds of millions of their own money into the stadium projects and related economic development – substantial investment in downtown and Eastern Jackson County.
- The Teams have already agreed to dozens of contract terms which lay the foundation for binding agreements with Jackson County. Those binding agreements are being drafted and will be available for review and comment by the public prior to the April vote.
If voters are allowed to exercise their right to vote in April and choose to anchor the Chiefs and the Royals in Jackson County for another 40 years, our community will quickly realize the fruits of these concessions. If Ordinance 5822 does not advance, the County Executive and his allies will ensure the status quo and a continued loss of County funds.
We live in an unfortunate post-truth era, where misinformation for political gain is more important than transparency and accountability. Sadly, statements issued yesterday by the County Executive and his legislative allies represent the worst of that mindset. These tactics are misleading and offensive. Jackson County voters deserve the truth.
- Ordinance 5822 gives the voters, not the County Executive, the right to decide whether to keep the Teams.
- Ordinance 5822 is just the first of many steps before any tax dollars are collected or distributed for stadium projects.
- If the voters decide to extend the sales tax in April, the County will collect the new tax only after the Teams execute binding agreements with the County.
- The County legislature must approve all the binding agreements after a public hearing. Therefore, the public can voice their opinions before the new sales tax is collected or distributed to the Teams and hold the elected officials accountable.
- If the County Executive and his supporters are successful with the veto of Ordinance 5822, the choice of keeping the Teams will not be presented to the voters for consideration in April. In that case, Jackson County runs a genuine risk of losing the teams – both institutions and an essential part of our community fabric.
Leaders are elected to represent the ideas and priorities of the voters, not the other way around. We encourage the County Executive and his allies to do what’s right, be accountable to the voters and allow Ordinance 5822 to proceed. Doing so is the only way taxpayers, not the County Executive, can decide whether Jackson County remains the home of the Chiefs and Royals for another generation.
DaRon McGee Donna Peyton
Manny Abarca IV Vennessa Huskey