Press Release March 20, 2024, Marshanna C. Smith

KANSAS CITY, Mo. –Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. this afternoon received letters addressed to County Legislators by the Kansas City Royals and Chiefs concerning a proposed arrangement for community benefits linked to the April 2, 2024 ballot issue for a new stadium sales tax. County Executive White has issued the following statement in response, as it’s imperative for the public and residents of Jackson County to understand the actual substance of these letters:

“These letters, while mentioning possible community benefits, do not represent a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) in any formal capacity. The decision by the teams to exclude Jackson County from participating in or contributing to the drafting of these documents is a significant concern, amplified by their timing — released less than two weeks before a pivotal election. Such timing raises legitimate questions about the motivation behind and the potential effectiveness of the benefits proposed.

“Statements from numerous community, civil rights and labor organizations has revealed a collective dissatisfaction with the negotiation process, leading to their withdrawal. Their departure highlights profound issues within the negotiation framework and casts substantial doubt on the inclusiveness and potential impact of the benefits proposed.

“These documents offer no mechanism for enforcement by either Jackson County or our residents. Consequently, the “commitments” made in these letters are yet another instance where the teams ask voters for their trust without providing a concrete basis for it. Basically, these letters represent non-binding expressions of intent, not the genuine, enforceable Community Benefits Agreements they intend to be.

“To distinguish between the proposals made by the teams and a genuine CBA, simply reference a definition from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):

CBAs are legally binding covenants made between developers or government bodies and community groups that require development on specified lands to meet outlined thresholds for living wage standards, local hiring policies, affordable housing, and sustainable development practices. Developers must abide by the CBA to receive tax breaks and other forms of public assistance. (Source: HUD)

“This clear disparity highlights a significant lack of commitment to enforceable, meaningful community benefits. While I recognize the efforts to outline potential benefits, I maintain a profound skepticism regarding the efficacy and reliability of these proposals due to the issues noted.

“As County Executive, I remain steadfast in my commitment to securing genuine, enforceable community benefits agreements that transparently and effectively address the needs of all residents. Jackson County voters were promised and deserve better than this.”